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BRP avoids liability in Sea-Doo lawsuit

Bombardier Recreational Products was found not to be liable for injuries that a Naples, Fla., woman sustained in 2007 when she fell off the back of a Sea-Doo.

A federal jury last week originally awarded Christina Thomas, 21, $1.75 million, but U.S. District Judge John Steele reviewed the verdict sheet before it was announced and rejected it, the Marco Eagle newspaper reported.

Jurors had not correctly followed instructions. They found the driver and owner equally negligent and ordered them to pay Thomas, but BRP was the defendant in the case.

The jury found that BRP, which manufactured the 2006 Sea-Doo RXT, had not negligently designed the Sea-Doo and that it was not in a defective condition.

Thomas slipped off the back of the Sea-Doo on May 20, 2007, when water from its jet thrust shot inside her, causing excruciating pain and internal injuries and bloodying the Gulf of Mexico, she told the court.

Thomas, now a student at Florida Gulf Coast University, was rushed to a hospital, where she spent about two weeks recovering from the Memorial Day weekend accident. She wore a colostomy bag for several months. An operation reversed that, but the former cheerleader still has medical problems and can only give birth through a C-section, the newspaper reported.

Thomas' lawyer, Robert Selig of Fort Lauderdale, is filing post-trial motions and is considering an appeal involving a pretrial ruling that barred him from mentioning 17 other women who were seriously injured in similar cases involving Bombardier, Kawasaki, Polaris and other manufacturers, including two that Bombardier settled.

Thomas' lawsuit hinged on a warning label placed beneath the handlebars at the front of the two-seat Sea-Doo. Selig and his expert contended that it was not conspicuous enough, but Bombardier's lawyer argued that it was.

Bombardier's lawyer had argued that Thomas, Sea-Doo driver James Del Sordo, now 25, and owner George Smith, the father of a classmate, were negligent because they did not read or heed the warning label.

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