The first lawsuit in the fatal July 4, 2012, Long Island, N.Y., sinking of a 34-foot Silverton in which three children drowned was filed by the father and brother of victim Victoria Gaines.
The action came a week after the lawyer for the owner of Silverton, named Kandi Won, submitted papers in federal court in Brooklyn as a pre-emptive move. He was seeking a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York that any claims against Kevin Treanor be heard in that court under admiralty law in an effort to limit liability.
Attorney Michael Della of Ronkonkoma filed a lawsuit in state supreme court in Riverhead on Oct. 11 on behalf of Paul Gaines, who is also the executor of 7-year-old Victoria’s estate, and Victoria’s brother Ryan seeking in excess of $50,000 of actual and punitive damages from 10 defendants. Victoria’s mother, Lisa, is not a party to the lawsuit.
In addition to Treanor, those named as defendants include Treanor’s brother-in-law, Salvatore Aureliano, who was steering Kandi Won with 27 people aboard when it capsized in Oyster Bay on its way back to Huntington after fireworks; Silverton Marine Corp., though the company is out of business; Luhrs Marine Group and Morgan Industries Corp.; Guy Denigris, who steered the boat from Huntington to Oyster Bay; Greg and Deborah Aureliano, who escaped from the cabin while their son David, 12, drowned; and Cablevision CEO James Dolan and his wife, Kristin. Prior to this year, the Dolan family had sponsored annual July Fourth fireworks at its waterfront Cove Neck property for many years, attracting hundreds of boats.
The Nassau County district attorney’s office issued a report in July stating that overloading was the primary cause of the accident, based on stability tests conducted on the recovered boat.
Before the case is heard in state supreme court, Della expects it to be stayed because of the motion made in federal court in Brooklyn by Treanor’s Manhattan maritime attorney, James E. Mercante, to have any litigation heard under admiralty law. That could limit the owner’s liability to the value of the boat after the accident — $1,500 according to a marine surveyor hired by Mercante.
The liability limit can be exceeded if it is shown in court that the owner was aware of a problem with the boat or was otherwise negligent, maritime attorneys said.