Yamaha is defendant in PWC crash lawsuit

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Opening arguments took place last week in Palm Beach County, Fla., in a lawsuit against Yamaha brought by parents of a teen who died and another who was gravely injured in a 2005 accident involving a WaveRunner.

During opening arguments, a lawyer representing Samantha Archer, who sustained brain damage and suffers a multitude of physical problems, said he will seek nearly $7 million for past and future medical bills. That does not include the millions he and lawyers representing Jaysell Perez’s parents will seek for pain and suffering after the teen’s death, The Palm Beach Post reported.

Yamaha, the WaveRunner’s manufacturer, set the stage for the accident by ignoring years of warnings about flaws in the steering system, lawyer Robert Baker said.

In March 2005, having celebrated Easter Sunday collecting colored eggs on Dr. Eugene Holly’s waterfront lawn, Archer and Perez allegedly falsely assured Holly that they knew how to operate his WaveRunner and took off.

Five minutes later, 14-year-old Perez was dead and 15-year-old Archer was gravely injured when the WaveRunner collided with a boat.

A lawyer representing Yamaha acknowledged the stakes.

“They will ask for millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars,” Rick Mueller told the newspaper.

Lawyers for Archer and the Perezes said the request is justified.

“The girls turned right in front of a boat. You know why?” said David Kleinberg, who represents Archer. “They couldn’t steer.”

Mueller, who gave an abbreviated version of an opening statement he will resume today, agreed that the accident was avoidable.

If the girls had not told Holly that they knew how to operate a water scooter, Mueller said, Holly would not have let them take it out on the Intracoastal Waterway, which was crowded with holiday boat traffic. Further, Mueller said, Archer was not 16, the legal age to drive water scooters in Florida.

“Sadly and regrettably, an underage, unlicensed, untrained and inexperienced young girl was out in an environment, a very congested waterway. That’s why the accident happened,” he told the newspaper.

Click here for the full article.


14 comments on “Yamaha is defendant in PWC crash lawsuit

  1. Cape Al

    Another case of pushing the blame for a tragic decision to let these kids play in traffic. It is criminal and unjust and only a lawyer would like this. Yamaha is not to blame. We will all pay for this bad decision. What a shame, these poor kids paid the ultimate price for adults making poor decisions.

  2. Ric Garland

    Underage/ no parental supervision/ no operator competency card as proof they knew who had right of way, but it is the manufacturer who is to blame. The operation of a motor vehicle carries responsibility and is NOT A Right. Especially on a busy day, the owner of the watercraft is responsible for giving them the lanyards.

    Steering failure? – I think not.Jet powered craft steer when under power. The normal reaction is to release the throttle,when panicked. Hope the judge can use this to educate the adults !!

  3. vissionquest

    A tradgety to be sure, but would the owners have let a young teen take their car without checking that he or she had a license and experience? We often refer to boats as toys, but that does not mean they do not require a large amount of knowledge to operate. The sad truth here is that only YAMAHA has the money so the lawyers attack the money.

  4. Aquascribe

    In Europe we watch the growth of the American born litigation culture with utter horror.
    Whilst the death and injuries to two young people are indeed extremely sad this case is one of blame shifting, nothing more. To allow two untrained and underage children to drive a powerful and fast machine, whether it be on land or water, is utter lunacy. The fact that Yamaha is being targeted may well indicate that the Wave Runner’s owner had not insured the craft for third party use – which surely is itself utter stupidity in a litigation driven culture.
    Where will this stop? Will the lawyers go after Ford in the event of a car crashed by underage drivers, or Stanley if someone hits their thumb with a hammer?
    Until families insure their own members, and pets, this culture of claiming against even the most remotly connected persons will just grow and grow. In the end it simply boils down to a lack of common sense, forethought, and parential control by all the adults involved – does it not?

  5. Breezeswept

    Sounds like lawyer is “chasing Yamaha’s deeper pockets” … a genuine ambulance chaser so to speak ………… When, in fact a professional such as Dr. Eugene Holly should know better and certainly enough to teach his new riders how to ride the Waverunner. Further, he should have checked to see they were legally old enough to operate a vessel.

    Yamaha legal team will win this one! Dr. Jacobs is negligent in the following: 1) if there was a steering defect, he likely was aware of it and should have repaired it 2) he did not give operator instructions with supervision and 3) Holly failed to check their age.

    By all counts Dr. Holly will be found negligent and guilty. Another question is: were the adults drinking alcohol (bloody mary, momosa, etc.) and were the teenagers also drinking?

  6. flatul8r

    Yamaha like knows that thier PWC can not be steered whithout the throttle being applied yet they still sell them and don’t provide for off throttle steering. No matter the negligence of the parents or anyone else this tradgedy may not have occured if Yamaha wasn’t too cheap to build a safer PWC. Any PWC that does not provide for off throttle steering should be removed from the waterways.

  7. Pedro

    Another disgusting story about unjust enrichment. The responsible parties are obviously the kids’ parents and the irresponsible Eugene Holly. I only wish that Yamaha could sue for legal and miscellaneous expenses after they win the suit.

    To the ‘genius’ “flatul8r”: please inform us of any power boat that will turn when not under power??

  8. Kat Drake

    Very sad incident where the parents/pwc owner/kids are at fault. Ridiculous lawsuit against Yamaha. It’s not just jet skis that cannot be steered when not under power….it’s ALL BOATS! That’s why children should not drive them! I hope Yamaha counter sues for their legal fees related to this irresponsible claim by irresponsible people. The firm that took this case should be ashamed & the parents…I’m not even gonna go there.

  9. Rod

    flatul8r, you claim that any PWC that can’t be steered with power off (or without applying thottle) should be banned, well that would apply to 99% of the PWC out there! PWCs like ALL boats are perfectly safe when operated by people who understand the limitations of the design, who are competent to operate them, and have been trained in their operation. These 2 girls were under-age, not trained, and were obviously too imature to be operated a boat capable of PWC speeds. The fault lies with the adults who allowed them to operate the PWC unsupervised, it is in fact the LAW that the owner of a vessel is responsible for EVERYTHING that happens with/to that vessel if it is being used with his/her permission! In other words, the owner of the PWC is at fault for this crash….NOT YAMAHA!!!!
    Could Yamaha design/build a PWC with engine off steering, perhaps. Would having that feature have absolutely, positively GUARANTEED that this crash would not have happened?? Hard to say, but as an experienced boater and Boating Safety Instructor….. I have seen and heard too many stories of crashes to even start to beleive in a “fool-proof” boat! It is not impossible to make something “fool-proof”, but it is totally impossible to make anything “damn-foolproof”!
    I am deeply saddened by this crash, 1 girl is dead and another “gravely injured” due to getting into a situation they were not ready to handle, it is a tragedy! However, let’s not compound the tragedy by blaming the wrong people! I forsee that cases like this will ultimately hurt all of us through increased legislation that in the end will never stop idiots from killing themselves, but will prevent competent people from being able to enjoy life, despite the risks.By the way, I am a life-long SAILOR, have about 16 years of small powerboat experience, however, I would not want to take a PWC out on a busy ICW on a holiday weekend, too crowded!

  10. jigger

    you people who are attempting to blame lawyers, owner of pwc and parents are all idiots. yamaha knew this product was defective and fixed the off throttle steering problem in 2003. this accident happened in 2005. the model involved was a 2001. they failed to recall their defective product and now take their travelling circus to another city to blame everyone but themselves without ever looking in the mirror. shameful!

  11. Breezeswept

    Mr. Jigger seems like a master of knowing all, or nothing. Among the other negligence Dr. Holly displayed, he will likely be found negligent in not getting any recall part or problem timely fixed … before allowing children to ride an adult machine.

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