Brunswick won’t appeal propeller accident case

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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week denied Brunswick’s request for a rehearing in a case in which it was found partially liable for a 2005 accident on Lake Austin in Texas in which a teen’s leg was severed by a propeller.

Brunswick asked for the rehearing on behalf of its Mercury Marine and Sea Ray divisions. There will be no further appeals in this case, Brunswick told Soundings Trade Only.

In May, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision handed down last year by a jury that Brunswick was partially responsible for the accident. Jacob Brochtrup, who was 18 at the time, and three others were in a 17.6-foot Sea Ray powered by a 135-hp MerCruiser sterndrive. When one of the tow ropes unhooked and fell into the water, Brochtrup jumped in behind the boat to retrieve it, according to court documents.

The driver put the boat into reverse to stop its forward motion and backed over Brochtrup. The propeller shredded his right leg, which was ultimately amputated at the hip joint.

The case went to trial three times. The first two juries were unable to reach a verdict. The third jury concluded that there was a design defect and awarded damages to Brochtrup.

Jurors ordered the company to pay $3.8 million in medical expenses and damages.

“Brunswick Corp. and Mercury Marine are disappointed that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to rehear the appeal submitted by Brunswick. We remain sympathetic to the plaintiff regarding this unfortunate accident, but continue to stand behind our products, which are used safely and properly by boaters around the world every day,” Brunswick spokesman Dan Kubera said in an e-mail to Soundings Trade Only.

“This case went to trial three times, with the first two juries unable to reach a verdict. The third jury ultimately awarded damages to the plaintiff and found the boat operator, the plaintiff and Brunswick responsible. Brunswick plans to pay its portion of the judgment. We appreciate the time and consideration the court and jury devoted to this matter,” he added.


13 comments on “Brunswick won’t appeal propeller accident case

  1. C. Moore

    To bad.
    Boat & motor buyers along with bowling ball & fitness equipment buyers & club members will be paying for this for a long time out in the future.
    As Brunswick & all its competitors will incur high insurance premium in the USA that will get passed down to the consumer.
    As Mr. Buffet once sang “We are the people our parents warned us about”

  2. S wade

    While sorry to hear of this terrible event Brunswick and their customers should not be held accountable for what should be personal responsibility. The operator of the boat was stupid and this court even more stupid.

  3. kp

    I quess this means we can start going after the big three every time we hit something or some one with a car.

  4. T. Wagner

    It seems that somewhere a village is missing twelve idiots. This is further proof that our system of juris prudence is broken. The first two juries got it right, so why oh why can the plaintifs try it over and over again, adding to the defendents legal expenses, until they ultimately get what they want? We need tort reform!

  5. G Cannon

    Well at least the lawyers got paid……
    We call this the justice system?
    Justice has NOT been served

  6. responselx

    Makes me sick. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the family of the injured but it is not the fault of Brunswick or any other boat or motor manufacturer. How many years have we had outboard motors, I/O’s inboards, bowriders? It is time that the operators and the end users become responsible and the courts look at these cases for what these are accidents; which could have been avoided (and have been for many, many years) if the equipment were operated in a responsible way. Far too often we let the Lawyers, courts, judges, and bleeding heart juries let big money payouts, fame and fortune get in the way of real justice – while the rest of us (responsible owners and operators) pay.

  7. charles

    This accident is akin to having the front seat passengar of the car you’re driving get out to clean the rear wiper blade on a snowy day while the car is in reverse gear and moving backwards. The odds of injury are high.

    How can the industry possibly be expected to engineer for ignorance?

    We ought to be suing the inventor of the propeller. This wouldn’t have happended on a side, paddle wheeler.

  8. LSW

    In this country you are no longer liable for your own actions and you no longer have to work hard to earn money.
    SOMEONE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Mitch P.

    This is so wrong. I guess this opens the door to sue the tire manufacturers every time someone is run over by a car. You can not idiot-proof the world and people need to be responsible for their own mistakes. Sure it was a terrible accident and I feel sorry for the injured boy, but anybody that operates a boat knows that the engine should be turned off any time someone is in the water near the transom. Mercury Marine should not have any liability for foolish and unknowledgeable boat operators and passangers.

  10. Rwil

    This has to be one of the most ridiculous and absurd court decisions ever handed down on product liability. I know companies sometimes make business decisions that make since to only them but Brunswick I think made a huge error in agreeing to pay in this case for reasons already mentioned.

  11. Phyllis Kopytko

    You be the one mutilated by the knife sharp steel blades of a manufactured propeller completely unprotected by a cover of any sort — then and only then can you call such a case frivilous. It’s about time the manufactures of these propulsion weapons have to publically pay as they have been gag order paying mutilated survivors for decades. I am a mutilated survivor. Yeah Jacob — now go buy that state of the art leg that is still going to hurt like the dickens to wear.

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