Chaparral Boats faces prop lawsuit

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A Charlotte, N.C., woman who was struck by a propeller last June on Lake Norman sued the boat operator, boatbuilder and the person who rented out the boat.

Deondra Scott says she was struck twice by a propeller after she jumped into the water at the Lake Bash on Lake Norman, according to the Charlotte Observer newspaper.

Scott, 25, says she was injured while Dennis Allen was maneuvering the powerboat in an attempt to tie it to another boat and participate in the Lake Bash. Allen had rented the boat to go to the Lake Bash with a group of friends, including Scott, according to the lawsuit.

“As [Scott] was swimming toward the ladder attached to the stern of the boat so that she could board the swim platform, Ms. Jennifer Pagliaro (a passenger in the boat), along with other people in the area, screamed at defendant Allen to cut (immediately turn off) the engine,” the lawsuit says.

Allen “panicked” and “slammed” the throttle into a reverse gear, striking Scott with the boat’s propeller, the lawsuit alleges. Scott says Allen then put the boat into a forward gear, causing the propeller to strike her again.

Scott alleges in the lawsuit that she suffered severe injuries, including lacerations to her right arm and breasts. The arm and breasts have been amputated, she says. She says she also suffered serious lacerations to both legs, a punctured lung and a severed sternum.

Allen, 30, was charged with operating a boat in a reckless manner. The misdemeanor charge is pending.

Scott also has sued David D. Orzolek and Chaparral Boats Inc. Orzolek rented the powerboat to Allen and Chaparral Boats designed, built and marketed the boat, according to the lawsuit.

Scott alleges that Chaparral sold the boat despite an unsafe design for a 14-passenger boat. She says seven passengers are necessarily seated behind the operator, potentially obstructing his or her vision. The boat’s swim platform and ladder, the lawsuit says, are only a few feet from the boat’s propeller.

Bob Ellis, a customer service specialist with Chaparral Boats, told the newspaper that company lawyers are investigating the incident.

“We were not aware this had occurred until we got the lawsuit,” he says.

Click here for the full article.


17 comments on “Chaparral Boats faces prop lawsuit

  1. dave

    two darwin award candidates, and some how the builder is liable???

    Perhaps, it is time that “rental” companies look for some NOT stupid/impaired/reckless, before they rent a prop boat.

    I would wonder how many Chaparral boats are used, correctly, every day…seems that the attorney for the builder could use that information to prove the design….but excuse me, doesn’t every builder use the same “design”? That would be millions of boats used safely by similar numbers of users…seems that would carry some weight, against stupid/impaired/clueless….

    the injured, should just look at this as a learning experience. Or else never buy or use ANYTHING again.

  2. Rob Myers

    It wouldn’t have mattered if the propeller were 10 feet away from the platform… This is the result of an untrained and unqualified operator that has produced this tragic result. The suit against Chaparral should be dropped immediately but it wont be. This will cost Chaparral and their insurance carrier hundreds of thousands in legal fees and settlements all because of someone else’s negligence.
    In over 20 years in the boating business, I never gave the keys to a customer who could not demonstrate safe operation of their boat.
    The only qualification that most dealers and rental operators require before turning a customer loose on the rest of us is money.

  3. Boatbroker1

    She missed the deep pockets entirely. Go after The Army Corps of Engineers dear. They flooded the place. Love the Darwin award candidate comment!!

  4. rarinlucy

    If enough folks make it known to the JUDGE, perhaps he will consider the boat operator and the swimmer share the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY in this and most lawsuits.
    The lawyer is after the money but it is the JUDGE who allows this to happen.
    Let’s write in a demand it.

  5. boatdealer

    @Rob Myers – in 30 years of boating I have seen many very experienced operators make serious mistakes when under the pressure of an accident or screaming passengers – so this isn’t an issue of experienced vs. inexperienced, or training of a renter – do you put your customers through panic training? Hopefully the operator was given the basics, and were the passengers told to also have the common sense not to jump in the water behind a running/moving boat? This was a tragic accident – an accident! Does anyone take personal responsibility for anything any more?

  6. capt crash

    If I read the story correctly. The guy is attempting to moor the boat next to another boat. This woman jumps in the water before the boat is safely tied up and shut off. She gets hit by the prop. I say most if not all the blame is on her. The guy operating the boat is responsible for his passengers and should have told all persons aboard NOT to jump in until he was tied up and motor shut down. So there is blame there to the captain/renter. But kids being kids I bet there were more who bailed out of the boat before it was tied up. This woman unfortunately was the only one hit.

  7. ric garland

    It is not the product that is harmfull-it is the operator of the product who appears to be negligent in running the motor when somebody is in the water in proximity to the boat.

    While we all regret the injury to the swimmer,she should have stayed out of range until the motor was stopped.That the driver may have been distracted by the others in the boast is HIS problem.

    The fact that lawyers take on cases on a contingency basis is no solution either.

  8. enginecom

    Who we as boating industry people need to be pissed at is the lawyers. No lawyer would take a case like this if there wasn’t the possiblity of a settlement. It’s a wonder they didn’t include the prop and engine manufacturer. We need to lobby the state and federal lawmakers to stop these frivolous lawsuits. But who is the majority of lawmakers? Lawyers of cource. Without tort reform we can look forward to more of these.

  9. Mark

    Here we go again! How is the boat builder liable??? How about the misdemeaner charge be upgraded.
    Stop renting boats out unless a Safety Course is passed.
    What kind of “Lake Bash” was this? Was he intoxicated?
    If the operator’s view is obstructed Don’t Move until a clear sight line is achieved.

  10. Avid Reader

    What is Ms.Scott doing jumping into the water when “Allen was maneuvering the powerboat in an attempt to tie it to another boat and participate in the Lake Bash.” Does she jump into a parking spot in front of a moving vehicle when someone is attempting to park???

    How does that make the boat manufacturer libel?

    No such thing as victims only volunteers.

  11. Joe Grayson

    So let me get this straight…If I were to back -up my Ford Fusion rental car over my wife…she gets a check? Where’s the logic?

  12. Ryan

    Funny enough, the lady going after the boat company according to the article was charging that the boats capacity limits are to blame for unsafe boating as if she was simply ousted due to too full of a boat. Sounds like she should also sue the coastguard for approving the capacity limit as well. She has went after everything but the water. My family and I live on lake Norman. People do very dumb things on the sand bar every year. We don’t even go out on the weekend due to inexperienced boaters overflowing the lake.

  13. Water Lover

    First MasterCraft and now Chaparral, didn’t take long to move from the West coast to the East coast.

  14. Jim T.

    The operator was not intoxicated. They had just left the dock loaded with beer but he had no consumed any.
    The company that rented the boat is at least partially at fault. The operator had no prior experience and only a few minutes of instruction. No way he should have been allowed to operate a bow rider that can hit speeds in excess of 40 mph with that limited experience.
    Reports at the time were that the several girls jumped off the back of boat while the operator was trying to raft up to another boat. The girl who was injured is partially at fault. The operator is at fault. They are going after Chapparal because they have the deep pockets. Likely no recovery from the operator as he was a waiter.

  15. captain rich

    as a licensed captain and a boating safety instructor for 20 plus years i always start my courses by stating that common sense is something that cannot be taught and some people will never have any. i don;’t know how much prior training or experience the driver had but to young lady who got hurt had no common sense in that she jumped off the boat while it was still running. yes the operator was probablly distracted as can be the case with a lot of people on board. of course when this happens the lawyers are lined up looking for a big pay day for themselves. if we had a law like in england where the plaintiff was held liable for frivolous law suits a lot of these would go away. one more thing i sold chaparrals for 20 years. contrary to the law suite they are well designed and extreamly well engineered product. what isn’t includeed in thier warranty is a guatantee that common sense is part of the package

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