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Brunswick won’t appeal propeller accident case

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.

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