Legal References

These propeller accident legal references are in addition to those listed on the Reference Page of our Virtual Propeller Guard presentation and to the cases cited on our Propeller Injury Legal Cases and Trials page.

Our Aspects of the Debate Surrounding Propeller Safety chart does a nice job of pulling most of the legal issues together that are debated in a propeller trial.

Our Who is Who in the Debate Surrounding Propeller Safety page is very useful to lawyers new to this field. It identifies the major current and historical figures and helps them keep everybody straight in their minds.

Motorboat Propeller Injury Accidents
Stephen R. Bolden
American Jurisprudence Model Trials – Vol 41 pgs. 161-348
Published by Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company in 1990
Library of Congress card catalog number 64-56647

We feel this is a “MUST READ” for everybody in the industry who may be involved in the trial process now that pre-emption is dead. Mr. Bolden won a propeller guard case / prop guard case many years ago, wrote a book on the process, then lost the appeal. It provides almost 200 pages of information on how to prepare for a trial in this area. It provides a “cook book” approach for every step in the preparation and trial. Now that pre-emption is gone, both sides will be using this book, so you better be prepared for it. It is available in most major law libraries.

Decision of Interest; Southern District; Expert Witness Failed to Attempt to Reconstruct Accident or Test His Own Theories of Design Safety. New York Law Journal. Case Digest. 22 July 2004.

A very lengthy discussion of “Roane v. Greenwich Swim Committee” a case involving propeller injuries to a swimmer during a distance swimming event and his subsequent rescue. Stephen Roane was a contestant in the Greenwich Point One Mile Swim held in Long Island Sound near Greenwich CT on 8 July 2000. The event began near Tods Point. When Roane began having problems, he swam to a buoy and signaled for help. He was picked up by a kayak which then tried to transfer him to a 27 foot twin engine Tiara 2700 named Sea Breeze. The boat was powered by twin “Mercury inboard/outboard engines or sterndrives”. The power boat was having some technical difficulties with the drives and while attempting to board the boat over the swim platform suffering from his own fatigue, Roane was drawn under the boat, struck by the boat and in a “great amount of pain”. Someone jumped in to help him and found Roane’s swim trunks were caught in the port propeller. They used a knife to cut him free and he was then taken to shore on surfboards and to Stamford Hospital. This paper goes on to explain the legal aspects of the case.

Propellers Turning Up Lawsuits. Trailer Boats. Feb. 1994.
A brief review of several propeller injury lawsuits.

The Sprietsma Case – The Sprietsma vs. Mercury Marine U.S. Supreme Court decision that removed Federal Pre-emption as the industry’s primary defense was very big news a few years ago. Now we take it for granted. Below are a few articles on that decision:

  • “The Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 and Propeller Strike Injuries: an Unexpected Exercise in Federal Preemption”. Trail Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar Newsletter. The Advocate. August 2000. This lengthy paper focuses on the now gone defense of preemption, but many other elements of it are still relevant.
  • Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine: Allowing State Regulation of Boat Engine Manufacturers Through Product Liability Lawsuits. Student Article by Richard Cutshall. Loyola Consumer Law Review 2003 (Vol. 15) Page 331. This is one of the first law journal articles to address the impact of the Sprietsma decision.
  • Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine: The Supreme Court Misses the Boat on Maritime Preemption. Joshua S. Force. 27 Tulane Maritime Law Journal (Summer 2003) Page 389. Another early law journal article on the Sprietsma decision.

ALR Annotations

The American Legal Reporter (ALR) has published some excellent summaries (annotations) of certain areas of boating. They begin with a specific case and then extensively cover prior litigation in that general area. As you look up these references be sure to look in the back of the books and examine the “Supplements” for more current information of these annotations. They are available in most major law libraries. Some of those with propeller injury implications are:

  • Liability of owner or operator of powered pleasure boat for injuries to swimmer or bather struck by boat. 98 ALR3d pgs. 1121-1135.
  • Liability for injuries to or death of water skiers. 8 ALR3d pgs. 665-674.
  • Products liability, sufficiency of evidence to support product misuse defense in actions concerning automobiles, boats, aircraft, and other vehicles. 63 ALR3d pgs. 1-94. In this annotation, the specific case happens to be a boat.
  • Products liability: liability of manufacturer or seller for injury or death caused by defect in boat or its parts, supplies, or equipment. 1ALR4d pgs. 394-430.

Should “State of the Art” Safety Be A Defense Against Liability? James W. Boyd and Daniel E. Ingberman. Oct 1995. Resources for the Future (RFF) Discussion Paper 96-01.