North Carolina Marina Death Verdict of $1.5 Million is Upheld by Court of Appeals
Accidents on the waterways often occur on the rivers and the open sea some distance from land. However, docks which house flammable substances and materials, can also be dangerous places that see accidents and even deaths.
A case in North Carolina that recently went to the Court of Appeals concerned the death of a dock worker who was killed when the boat he was refueling exploded.
North Carolina Lawyers Weekly reported on how last month the appellate court upheld an award of $1.5 million in a wrongful death case made by a jury in Lincoln County. The jury ruled the 19-year-old dock worker was killed when the boat he was fuelling exploded due to improper nozzles installed by the defendant that caused an oil spill.
Court documents showed the 19-year-old was working at Hobbs Westpoint Marina in Denver when an 80 foot long charter boat pulled into the dock for refueling. The dock worker was seen on video surveillance pulling out a hose for refueling. About six minutes later, a vapor cloud was visible in “real close proximity” to the fuelling area, the complaint stated.
The attorney for the plaintiff, M. David Bland, said the vapor cloud was ignited by a running generator, causing two explosions.
The first took place as the dock worker took a ladder down from the second deck to the center of the stern. The second caused flames to engulf the back of the vessel, killing the worker instantly.
Bland pointed out deficiencies in a fuel nozzle. He said it was a “non-pressure-activated nozzle with a hold-open latch.” Bland said it failed to click off when the boat’s tank was full. He described the accident as a “terrible tragedy.”
The defendants in the case, Petroleum Equipment and Service, claimed in their appeal that the plaintiff failed to establish that the company owed the worker a duty of care and failed to provide that the equipment company installed the nozzle.
However, the N.C. Fire Prevention Code stated dispensing of class I, II or IIIA liquids into the fuel tanks of marine craft shall be by an approved-type hose equipment with a listed automatic nozzle without a latch-open device.”
This was a tragic case that highlights some of the potential hidden dangers of the boating industry. No amount of money can make up for a life lost but often death leaves a large financial hole for those who are left behind. All cases are different and we cannot guarantee the same result in your case.
If you have lost a loved one in a car, boating or another kind of accident, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.