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.

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