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Geico and vessel owner fail to prove damage claim against vessel repair company for sinking after repair job



The Plaintiff Gregory Shand in this case purchased a new boat from Formula Boats South for around $600,000 in 2017. A few years later, the Defendant Amzim Marine Services, LLC performed repairs on the boat including replacing a trim tab. An Amzim employee installed a new trim tab on the port side of the boat shortly before the it sank.  Amzim's employee did not follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The boat took on water and sank while docked on its second voyage after the repair. The port trim was found to have less sealant than the starboard tab after sinking.  Geico initially filed suit to recoup insurance proceeds it had paid and Shand intervened in the suit to recover his uninsured losses. 


The court found that the Plaintiffs failed to establish the applicable standard of care in the marine repair industry, so the court could not determine whether Defendant breached its duty of care. The evidence showed the manufacturer's manual did not reflect industry standards. Plaintiffs also failed to establish causation between Defendant's installation of the trim tab and the sinking. The boat had other issues that could have caused the sinking. Plaintiffs further failed to quantify damages, providing speculative and contradictory estimates of repair costs.


The court was critical of the vessel for having bilge pumps that were not operating properly.  The Court stated:


[The vessel] would not have suffered nearly as much damage if she had operational bilge pumps and a working high-water alarm. But [the vessel] had neither thing, letting water flow into the boat undetected and unmitigated.


The court was also critical of the plaintiffs for failing to mitigate their damages. The court found that the plaintiff’s failed to “pickle” the engines after sinking. Further, the court noted that the plaintiff let the vessel sit without maintenance or additional cleaning for several months after her sinking putting her at further risk of rust and corrosion. 


A link to the decision is provided below:

 


GEICO Marine Ins. Co. v. Amzim Marine Servs. LLC 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42883
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Please feel free to reach out at ad@adamdavislawfirm.com or (504) 553-1435 if you have any questions or would like to discuss. 


Thanks,


Adam Davis Law Firm

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