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Jury finds Brunswick partially liable in prop accident

A federal jury Monday found Brunswick Corp. partially liable for a 2005 accident on Lake Austin, Texas, in which a teen's leg was severed by a propeller.

Jurors ordered the company to pay $3.8 million in medical expenses and damages, according to an article in the American-Statesman newspaper.

After deliberating for about seven hours, jurors found that the Brunswick Corp. shared more than half of the blame for the accident that severely injured Jacob Brochtrup, who was then 18.

Brunswick officials said in a statement after the verdict that they "stand behind our products, which are used safely and properly by boaters around the world."

Jurors found that Brochtrup also was responsible, as was the driver of the boat.

According to the suit, the manufacturer of the boat and motor did not have safety devices, including guards or covers, to prevent Brochtrup from becoming entangled or stuck.

"While we at Brunswick remain sympathetic to the plaintiff for this unfortunate accident, we are nevertheless disappointed with today's verdict," Brunswick officials said in the statement Monday. "We will evaluate our options in this matter going forward, including a possible appeal."

Austin attorney Robby Alden, who represented Brochtrup, said the decision marks the first successful case against the boating industry by a person injured by a engine. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2002 allowed such cases to go forward.

Boatbuilders prevailed in two similar suits nationally that involved older-model boats, he said. And jurors in two previous trials of Brochtrup's case deadlocked, resulting in mistrials.

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