Local

Jury awards $200 million to family of boy killed in Georgia boating accident

RABUN COUNTY, Ga. — The family of a 7-year-old boy killed in a Georgia boating accident in 2014 has been awarded $200 million by a grand jury.

Ryan Paul Batchelder was tragically killed in 2014 on Lake Burton in Rabun County.

The boy’s family rented a 2000 Malibu Response LX open bow ski boat for a family reunion. Attorneys said while the boat was being operated at about 5-7 mph and properly loaded at a weight hundreds of pounds below the maximum rated capacity, the bow carrying 4 children swamped, washing Batchelder into the water. The boy became entangled in the boat’s unguarded propeller and died.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Malibu Boats West, Inc., and Malibu Boats, LLC created the same open bow boat, by cutting a hole in the forward deck of a closed bow boat and adding seats. The jury determined that occupant weight forward in the boat decreased bow freeboard to unacceptable levels and rendered the boat unreasonably dangerous and susceptible to bow swamping.

The jury said Malibu failed to provide any warnings or guidance to users of the boat that the low bow freeboard design was susceptible to bow swamping if weight was being carried in the bow seat.

The jury apportioned 25% of the responsibility for Batchelder’s death to the Malibu defendants, and 75% to the operator.

The jury awarded $80 million for Batchelder’s pain and suffering and wrongful death and an additional $120 million in punitive damages, $40 million to Malibu Boats West, Inc. and $80 million against Malibu Boats, LLC., irrespective of the negligence it found in the driver’s reaction to the sudden and tragic event.

TRENDING STORIES:

“The jury sent a very loud and clear message to Malibu and the entire boating industry that manufacturers who have actual knowledge of life threatening safety hazards and intentionally fail to warn and withhold information of dangerous conditions will be held accountable,” Batchelder family attorney Don Fountain said.

Fountain and the Batchelder family hope that this verdict will change the boating industry and prevent any parent from ever experiencing the horrors associated with losing a child.

It was the largest verdict in Rabun County history, and the largest single verdict for the pain and suffering for wrongful death in the history of the State of Georgia.

READ MORE HERE.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐦 𝐎𝐛𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 $𝟐𝟎𝟎 𝐌𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐕𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐅𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲, 𝐖𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐒𝐨𝐧 𝐖𝐚𝐬 𝐊𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐃𝐮𝐞 𝐓𝐨 𝐀 𝐃𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐁𝐨𝐚𝐭 Clark, Fountain,...

Posted by Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin on Tuesday, August 31, 2021