Archive for OMC

The boating industry has a long history of misleading the public and authorities by providing recreational boat propeller accident counts much lower than the official accident statistics provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Several of these instances result from the industry falsely using Event 1 only statistics to represent the total number of propeller accidents, injuries, or fatalities. U.S. Coast Guard reports accidents as a sequence of events (like Event 1 = collision with submerged object, Event 2 = fell overboard, Event 3 = struck by propeller). Most propeller accidents tend to be reported as Event 2 or Event 3 accidents. Something else happens first, like a collision with fixed object, collision with submerged object, collision with floating object, collision with recreational vessel, falls overboard, etc, then the person is struck by the propeller.

We highlighted a table from USCG’s 2010 Boating Statistics below as an example.

USCG 2010 Propeller Accident Statistics

USCG 2010 Propeller Accident Statistics

USCG’s 2010 Table 17 above shows 179 accidents, 27 deaths, and 178 injuries from Person Struck by Propeller. The industry keeps wanting to use the Event 1 data only to the left (49 people struck).

From 2003 through 2012, there have been about 49 to 107 Event 1 propeller accidents per year with about 1 to 8 fatalities per year resulting from those Event 1 accidents.

However, during the same years there have been a total of about 176 to 266 propeller accidents per year with about 19 to 47 fatalities per year resulting from those accidents per USCG.

When the industry only cites Event 1 accidents they are significantly misrepresenting the total number of reported propeller accidents.

We have covered some instances of the boating industry misrepresenting these statistics in the past. We recently encountered another one, and decided to pull some of them together into this post.

  • Dick Snyder, Mercury Marine propeller accident expert and industry expert witness – 1988 presentation and letters concerning the upcoming 1989 USCG National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) Propeller Guard Subcommittee Report.
  • Bill Calore, General Counsel Volvo Penta – Presentation to NBSAC 1996.
  • Ralph Lambrecht, longtime OMC technician and industry expert – Boat and Motor Dealer. Sep/Oct 2006.
  • Don Kueny, OMC Chief Marine Engineer – the June 2009 Audrey Decker trial.
  • Pete Chisholm, Mercury Marine / Brunswick Corporation – the Jacob Brochtrup trial (April 2010) and in Brunswick’s request for a rehearing (June 2011).

Read More→

The two major U.S. recreational marine drive companies of the past many years: Brunswick / Mercury Marine and Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) have been in the forefront of “debunking” propeller guards in court since the 1970’s. In this post we estimate their total expenses in developing propeller guards designed to protect people at less than $25,000 combined.

Outboard Marine Corporation was formed in 1929 from the merger of two existing outboard motor manufacturers. OMC went bankrupt in December 2000, but their insurance company still represents them against propeller injury claims.

Mercury Marine began as Kiekhaefer Corporation in 1939, and was acquired by Brunswick Corporation in 1961.

During the late 1980’s and in the 1990’s OMC and Mercury often worked together in testing propeller guards, most notably during the November-December 1990 SUNY tests. They also collaborated on legal defense efforts. Dick Snyder, Mercury Marine’s expert witness in propeller injury cases, served as an expert for OMC in several cases as well. Plus they conducted a large joint mock propeller trial in early 1989. Mercury later tried to downplay this period of legal cooperation with OMC against their common enemy (propeller injury suits). We mention this period of cooperation because it is relevant to Mercury and OMC being the major industry voices in the U.S. against propeller guards.

We (and they) have occasionally been asked how much money they spent trying to develop a “people protecting” propeller guard. The “people protecting” part is important as the industry has developed a few propeller guards which they claim were not for protecting people or were for protecting people in an extremely limited instance. Quite recently we were asked this same question again so we began to gather documents and created this post. Read More→

2 Categories : Legal Shorts

We have long considered trying to create a timeline of recreational boat propeller safety issues, accidents, legal cases, and the propeller safety movement.

As a preparatory effort to any future efforts at documenting the history of propeller safety, we created, “A History of Recreational Boat Propeller Safety Issues and the Propeller Safety Movement”

We recognize the events listed are described in a very abbreviated form, and much has yet to be added. We are publishing it in it current form to request your input in helping us further develop this history.

Download the paper in pdf format from the link below.

A History of Recreational Boat Propeller Safety

Download Report Here

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Please post your comments and suggestions using the comment box below, or contact us directly using the Contact Us tab in the top menu.

We are already aware of several items we still need to include and will start building a list below for future updates.

Future Updates

  • Cover the history of neutral shifting issues as they relate to propeller safety
  • Cover the history of steering failures as they relate to propeller safety

Other Boat Propeller Safety Histories

0 Categories : History

Dick Snyder, Mercury Marine’s expert witness in propeller guard cases, designed a propeller guard back in 1989.

Placing the event in historical perspective, this was a very eventful time. The U.S. Coast Guard NBSAC Propeller Guard Subcommittee was formed on May 11, 1988, met twice more in 1988, met in May of 1989, then delivered their final report in November of 1989. Also in 1989, the Institute for Injury Reduction, led by Ben Kelley, was loudly calling for the use of propeller guards. In November and December of 1990, Mercury Marine and Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) ran the propeller guard tests in the circular tank at State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo using the Snyder guard on a OMC outboard. In 1991, Mercury Marine was able to convince a court to dismiss a propeller case based on Federal Pre-emption (a defense the boating industry then employed for almost a decade).

It seems like an odd time for Mercury to be developing a propeller guard. Documents indicate they were probably attracted by the potential to sell a large number of outboards to the military. At that time Rigid Raiding Craft (RRC) were 18 foot Boston Whalers powered by twin OMC 70 horsepower outboards. Note, this was before Brunswick owned Boston Whaler.

The military was in process of beefing up its riverine, littoral, brown water capabilities. Rigid Raiding Craft (inflatable hard bottomed boats) were announced in 1987. Rigid Raiding Craft were to be directly launched from internal bays of larger vessels offshore, to carry soldiers to shore for quick actions, then return them to the larger “Mother Ship”. They were often used for Over-The-Horizon (OTH) raids. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Michael Hinton was trying to retrieve his son’s hat which had blown into the water on September 10, 2000. He was on the swim deck, crouched, hanging onto the swim ladder and getting ready to reach for the hat. The swim ladder was anchored to the transom by a nylon strap through a grommet. The grommet broke and Hinton fell in, went under a few seconds, then surfaced several yards away.

The boat operator backed up to retrieve Mr. Hinton, he swam toward the stern, as Mr. Hinton looked up he saw the boat rapidly approaching, hit his chin on the swim platform, one of his legs was pulled into the propeller and severely injured, and later amputated.

Michael Hinton claims the boat had a defective swim ladder.

As noted above, the trial focused on the ladder, but they would not have had a trial if he had not been injured by the propeller.

The Jury decided in favor of OMC on February 2, 2012. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

We propose a tax on fatal boat propeller accidents similar to a tax on pollution as a means of encouraging marine drive companies to prevent propeller injuries.

The U.S. Coast Guard Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking surrounding propeller and carbon monoxide safety (USCG-2011-0497) asked for public comments on possible strategies to reduce propeller injuries. Thinking about the continuing inaction of the boating industry when many good tools are readily available, I began to look to examples in other industries, where firms previously resistant to human welfare issues had been energized for change. I quickly came to the automotive industry and how they originally resisted calls to improve mileage and/or reducing emissions. Established regulatory targets forced them to action (new car emission limits and fleet mileage targets).

Propeller Fatality Permit mockup

Propeller Fatality Permit mockup

Somewhat similar process have been used on broader industries to regulate emissions. Notable policies include:

  • Taxing of emissions
  • Cap and Trade of emissions permits (credits)

We regulate emissions for public welfare. Beyond the desire for clean air, emissions kill asthmatics and others with breathing issues, as well as bring on other medical problems. Automotive mileage is regulated to reduce fuel consumption which reduces emissions.

Our parallel idea is to consider fatalities from boat propeller accidents to be parallel to boating emissions and regulate them with a cap and trade system as well.

We are not saying the program as described below should be implemented. We are just presenting it to generate discussion. Some version of this approach might be an effective incentive in encouraging the industry to take action while not placing too large of a burden upon them. We welcome your comments.

We note the U.S. Coast Guard added a data field to their Boating Accident Database (BARD) in 2009 for “engine manufacturer”. Many accident reports have no entry in that data field, but it offers an opportunity to associate propeller fatalities with the manufacturer of the stern drive or outboard motor involved in that accident. We suggest strongly encouraging state boating law administrators to encourage those recording accident data to make sure they record the engine manufacturer data for propeller fatalities and possible propeller fatalities. We also suggest they capture a digital image of the drive on the boat when possible to backup that identification.

We also encourage providing a means by which those reporting accidents can accurately distinguish between OMC and Bombardier drives (paint color, markings, decals, significant features, build dates, etc). This would be useful in distinguishing boats powered by legacy OMC drives, vs. boats powered by more modern (2001 or later build date) Bombardier drives.

Armed with that information, the annual number of recreational boat propeller fatalities tied to each marine drive manufacture can be determined, as well as annual trends by manufacturer.

Below we present a Propeller Fatality Cap and Trade with a Tax on Over Cap Fatalities. This approach is a hybrid of two methods we presented earlier Propeller Fatality Tax, and a Propeller Fatality Cap and Trade.

Please note, the numbers and dollar amounts below in bold are just placeholders to begin a conversation. Read More→

We discuss Propeller Fatality Cap and Trade With a Tax on Over Cap Fatalities as a means to reduce recreational boat propeller fatalities in another post. While developing those concepts, we explored some other venues as well. The less desired approaches are provided here as reference material.

In general, they present an approaches similar to cap and trading of emissions.

Two such approaches are presented here

  • Propeller Fatality Tax
  • Propeller Fatality Cap and Trade

The numbers presented in bold are merely placeholders to generate discussion. Read More→

We are working on a propeller safety proposal that requires an estimate of the percentage of U.S. outboard and sterndrive boats powered by the various outboard and sterndrive manufacturers that are in the field, called the boat park by other nations. These numbers may be considerably different than current market shares due to some manufacturers having large populations of legacy drives in the field. In addition, some manufacturers no longer in operation (like OMC) still have a large population of drives in the field.

We notice the U.S. Coast Guard has supplied a data field for engine manufacturer beginning in their 2009 Boating Accident Report Database (BARD). While this information is only being captured for a fraction of the accident reports, we still submit it as one means of estimating the market share of boats powered by manufacturers of outboards and stern drives in the field.

We created a spreadsheet and examined 2009 and 2010 BARD. We established a subset of data by year that only included outboards and sterndrives, then we counted those belonging to each manufacturer. Several small manufacturers only had one drive. We eliminated manufacturers that did not have at least two drives listed in at least one of the two years we analyzed. Then we grouped the results by manufacturer (like OMC= OMC + Evinrude + Johnson). Read More→

Follow Us On TwitterThis post is part of our coverage of the Listman v. OMC propeller injury trial

Robin Listman vs. Outboard Marine Corporation
Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada, County of Washoe

1 November 2011 Session One – pm (Note there was no morning session, this was an afternoon session per CVN) Read More→

1 Categories : Listman vs. OMC Trial

Follow Us On TwitterThis post is part of our coverage of the Listman v. OMC propeller injury trial

Robin Listman vs. Outboard Marine Corporation
Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada, County of Washoe

18 November 2011 Session One Read More→

0 Categories : Listman vs. OMC Trial