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Admiralty – Tort/Negligence – Closed-Head Injury – Novice Passenger – Gybe Maneuver

Holding: The defendant sailboat-captain was negligent when he saw an invited passenger sitting where she would be struck by the main sheet if he performed a gybe maneuver, he failed to make sure she was out of the way, and he performed the maneuver, causing the main sheet to strike the passenger in the head, knocking her to the deck. Although the passenger should have listened to crew members who urged her to move, the captain was 75 percent responsible for the passenger’s concussion and related damages.

The court awards plaintiff $958,858.15 in damages plus prejudgment interest of $22,952.44.

Ray v. Lesniak (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-048-18, 32 pp.) (David Norton, J.) 2:16-cv-01752; Benjamin Catlett Smoot II, William Early and Theodore Augustus Consta Hargrove II for plaintiff; Joseph Weston and Stephanie Phillips for defendant. D.S.C.


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