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Death claim dismissed, although manufacturer admits component missing or never installed

Lynette Witbeck's husband was killed when the boat he was operating suddenly veered out of control.  He struck his head on the windshield and was ejected.  The Defendants who had manufactured and sold the boat acknowledged that "the accident probably occurred after the steering link rod disconnected...because the nylon insert locknut (NIL) that was supposed to be on the threaded end of the steering link rod was missing or had not been properly installed."  Nevertheless, the court dismissed her death case because her expert drew his experience from "reliable engineering principles and methods" but not directly from experience with marine fasteners.

The Court held that Plaintiff's expert's experience in the aerospace industry did not form an adequate basis for his opinions, and further held that the owner of the boat could not hold the marina responsible for inspecting the defective mechanism, because under the owner's manual's instructions, the manufacturer expected him to inspect it, also.  So, beware if you buy a sophisticated piece of machinery:  not only will you be held to the same standard of engineering expertise as the dealer and repair shops, you won't be able to criticize them unless you can find and hire a "turncoat" expert from among them.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262