Propeller Guard Information Center

Cioban v. Silverthorn: houseboat propeller case decided

A hat blew off woman on the upper deck of a rental houseboat on Shasta Lake in California back on May 30, 2015. Olga Cioban walked down to the first deck, heard an engine running she thought was the generator, jumped from the stern to retrieve the hat, and was struck by the houseboat propeller.

Later she married the boat operator and became Olga Cioban-Liontiy.

She sued Yamaha (drive manufacturer), Twin Anchor (houseboat builder) later determined to be Waterway Houseboat Builders, and Silverthorn (houseboat rental marina).

Olga Cioban-Leontiy
Silverthorn Resort Associates LP, Waterway Houseboat Builders, Volvo Penta of the Americas LLC
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
Sacramento Division
Case # 2:17-CV-01626-MCE-CMK

Silverthorn houseboat in Cioban case. photo from Defense Expert Captain Timmel's Rebuttal report

Silverthorn houseboat in Cioban case.
photo from Defense Expert Captain Timmel’s Rebuttal report

We covered this case back in May 2019 with:

By our May 2019 coverage, Waterway Houseboat Builders and Yamaha had been dismissed from the case, leaving Silverthorn with a negligence claim left on the table.

On 29 May 2020, Silverthorn was awarded summary judgement. With Yamaha and Waterway Houseboat Builders gone, the case basically came down to the the alleged failure of Silverthorn to warn vs the lady previously testifying she knew of the danger of propellers and not to jump in if the engine was running. The defense said there was no reason to warn her, she already knew of the hazard. The court said “any failure to warn on Silverthorn’s part was not a substantial factor in causing her injuries.” and dismissed the case.

Silverthorn was also awarded the right to “tax” Olga Cioban-Leontiy with their court costs which were $77,776.04. That is a significant barrier to those who may come along later. If you are injured and don’t have a solid case, or are not solidly represented, or don’t have a good set experts, or don’t consistently get everything filed on time, or just draw some bad luck going thru the system, you personally could come up owing $80,000 or more PLUS your medical, rehab, and life care bills.

The rental houseboat industry definitely won big this time.

Some of the reasons the industry won this case can be found in our two previous posts on this accident (see links above).

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