Jordan McKelvey vs. State Dock Marina Rentals, et al. (including Sunstar Houseboats)
State Dock rented a Sunstar houseboat (Admiral 70) to James Gibson and others on Lake Cumberland on August 11, 2011.
Jordan McKelvey of Ferndale Michigan was along on this houseboat. The rental was one day before the now annual Lake Cumberland “Raft-Up” event. Boats were gathering in the Shinbone area for the event the following day.
Jordan McKelvey swam to the Admiral 70 houseboat ladder on August 11th and was proceeding to climb it when the propeller sucked him in.
McKelvey was taken to Conley Bottom Marina, moved by EMS to a landing site, then life flighted to University of Kentucky Medical Center where he remained for 18 days.
As a result of the accident McKelvey was very severely injured and incurred significant medical expenses. Injuries included severe lacerations and a damaged sciatic nerve. He has since had 8 surgeries per court documents filed 19 July 2012. Jordan McKelvey is said to be at risk for future complications, health problems and disability. He pain, suffered lost wages, and his ability to earn in the future has been impacted.
Jordan McKelvey (the Plaintiff) is being represented by Jay Vaughn of Schachter, Hendy & Johnson of Ft. Wright, Kentucky.
State Dock and Sunstar Houseboats are being represented by Spivey Gault of Gault, Marshall & Miller of Paducah, Kentucky.
Plaintiff and Defense claims below are from PACER.
Plaintiff claims the houseboat did not have a propeller guard and State Dock failed to instruct Mr. Gibson or others on the safe and proper use of the houseboat.
Plaintiff filed a Negligence count against State Dock Marina claiming the propeller was negligently and defectively designed, manufactured, tested, maintained, and /or warned against as a propeller guard was not installed. They say State Dock failed to comply with the existing standard of care by failing to install a propeller guard or warn against the dangers of not having one installed.
Plaintiff also claims State Dock failed to instruct renters and occupants of the houseboat on its safe and proper use.
Plaintiff claims the negligence above was the direct and proximate cause of Jordan McKelvey’s injuries.
Plaintiff also filed a negligence claim against Sunstar Houseboats similarly claiming the propeller was negligently and defectively designed, manufactured, tested, maintained, and / or warned against as a propeller guard was not installed.
Plaintiff also claims Sunstar Houseboat failed to comply with the existing standard of care by failing to install a propeller guard or warn of the dangers of not having one.
As with State Dock, they also claim Sunstar Houseboat’s negligence was the direct and proximate cause of Jordan Kelvey’s injuries.
Plaintiff also filed a Strict Liability Claim against Sunstar Houseboats. They claim the houseboat was in defective condition and unreasonably dangerous because a propeller guard was not installed. It was also defective and in a dangerous condition because it did not include any warning or instruction pointing out a propeller guard was not installed, and that a person could come in contact with the propeller in normal use.
They claim the houseboat created such a risk that a reasonably prudent manufacturer of houseboats, being made fully aware of the risks, would not have placed it on the market.
Plaintiff claims the alleged product defects above were the direct and proximate causes of Jordan McKelvey’s injuries.
Plaintiff seeks punitive damages against State Dock Marina and Sunstar Houseboats.
In their early responses, State Dock admits the houseboat did not have a propeller guard installed and claims propeller guards are not required. Defense submitted a signed copy of a Captains Lesson which was provided to Kelly O’Neil as evidence of their training.
State Dock says they are without sufficient information, knowledge, or evidence to admit or deny several claims so they deny them (this is common practice), however they do deny the plaintiff and others were not adequately warned of certain dangers of operating the houseboat.
Defense says defendants will show the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his own safety. Jordan McKelvey’s failure to do so, was a proximate or the sole proximate cause of his injuries.
Defense notes any damages awarded should be reduced by the degree to which Jordan McKelvey contributed to the accident.
Defense says they will show Jordan McKelvey’s injuries were caused by the negligent or intentional acts of others over which State Dock had no legal liability or responsibility (referring to James Gibson who has been charged in the accident).
Defense says Jordan McKelvey failed to exercise reasonable care to mitigate his damages.
To the extent the houseboat or any component of the houseboat is alleged to be defective, State Dock did not manufacture the houseboat and is not liable.
Defense claims the renters assumed the risks by contract and agreed to hold State Dock harmless.
Defense claims awarding punitive damages would violate State Dock’s rights under due process of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Jurisdiction and Damages Sought
This case was originally filed in Wayne County Circuit Court on June 28, 2012, moved to Kentucky Eastern District Federal Court on 19 July 2012, then back to Wayne County Circuit Court on 30 July 2012.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, court costs, attorney fees, and any and all other relief to which their client may be deemed entitled to.
The case is a little complicated with State Dock having multiple entities (State Dock Marina Rentals, LLC, State Dock Marina Services, LLC, and State Dock Marina Ventures, LLC)