Bounty Lawsuit Filed - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 52 Old 05-10-2013 Thread Starter
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Bounty Lawsuit Filed

The complaint contains about the most succinct summary of the event I have seen yet:

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"grossly overestimated, to the point of recklessness, Bounty's seaworthiness and overestimated his professional seamanship and weather forecasting abilities to the point of arrogant hubris."
Crew member's mother sues Bounty's owner over death | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com
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post #2 of 52 Old 05-10-2013
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

ohboy, here we go....


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post #3 of 52 Old 05-10-2013
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

I have downloaded the Complaint from the U.S. District Court in N.Y. and uploaded it to my Picasa/Google web page, if anyone wants to take a look at it:

https://plus.google.com/photos/10193...082?banner=pwa
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post #4 of 52 Old 05-10-2013
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

The gist of the matter for SailNet members, paragraphs 40 and 41:

"40. Not only was the decision to go to sea with this wooden boat – originally
built as a movie prop – reckless, but so too was the two hour notice given to the crew. There was
no time to allow them to grasp the full implications of the storm, or to confer with family, friends
or knowledgeable individuals. Nonetheless, and because the entire crew- excepting Mate
Svendsen - trusted Walbridge implicitly– all agreed to make the voyage. The crew, for the most
part, lacked adequate experience to comprehend the perils of the seas that awaited
as seen in Exhs. 2, 3 & 4 which show their maritime experiences:
a. Ten crewmembers (63%) had been aboard Bounty for less than 8 months,
b. Six of those had never been aboard any other tall ship -including 3rd mate Cleveland.
c. 2nd mate Sanders had one summer’s experience as a summer intern, and no other tall ship
experience.
d. Nine crewmembers had never sailed on another tall ship.
e. The engineer, Barksdale, had a total of 4 days sea time on Bounty and had no experience
or training whatsoever on marine diesel engines or generators.
f. The average total tall-ship experience for a deckhand was 1 year. The average Bounty
experience for a deckhand was six months.
41. Captain Walbridge, who was focused on the rewards lying at St. Petersburg,
recklessly ignored SANDY’S size, scope and intensity. He also grossly overestimated, to the
point of recklessness, BOUNTY’S seaworthiness and overestimated his professional
seamanship and weather forecasting abilities to the point of arrogant hubris."
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

...and more, paragraph 44, wherein counsel alleges Walbridge was "mentally detached from reality":

"44. Notwithstanding the extensive news and media coverage devoted to SANDY
and warnings provided by the NHC and Marine Advisories, neither HANSON nor BOUNTY
ORGANIZATION countermanded Walbridge’s reckless sailing plan. More importantly,
HANSON and BOUNTY ORGANIZATON were on notice that Walbridge had made bizarre
public statements in a video interview which aired on television which directly pointed not
only to his lack of competence but to the threat he presented as master of BOUNTY.10 During
this interview, which was made aboard BOUNTY, Walbridge totally dismissed the dangers of
hurricanes and bad weather, stating” “there is no such thing as bad weather only different
kinds of weather”. He also compared a hurricane as something similar to a thrilling
amusement ride; “ we chase hurricanes” …. “you get a good ride out of it”.
Notwithstanding the “red flags” and clear import of his opinions, HANSEN and BOUNTY
ORGANIZATION failed to remove Walbridge as master. Neither did they take any steps to
investigate the incident. Moreover, during the ill-fated voyage, emails and messages sent by
Walbridge, describing BOUNTY’s rapidly deteriorating condition as she encountered
hurricane SANDY, showed that Walbridge continued to be mentally detached from reality."
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

Walbridge's incompetence during the storm in paragraph 49:

"49. On October 27th, 08:00 , seas were 8-10 feet and winds were 20 kts. As the day
progressed, BOUNTY’S unseaworthiness began to manifest. At noon, Chris Barksdale, the only
engineer aboard, was hurled across the deck injuring his right hand. By 16:00 (4:00pm) sea water
was rising in the bilges faster than it could be pumped overboard. At 19:00 (7:00pm) seas were
15 feet and winds 30-40 kts. Walbridge ordered the hydraulic pumps to be put into operation.
They were found to be inoperative due to corrosion and lack of maintenance. By 20:00 (8:00pm)
crewmembers were needed constantly in the engine room to operate the bilge pumps. Violent
rolling of the vessel caused the pumps to lose suction and prime and debris in the bilges caused
clogging of strainers. Walbridge and other crewmembers attempted repairs of the back-up
hydraulic pumps. At that point in time, it was clear that BOUNTY was taking on water faster
than her deficient pumps could handle. She was flooding. Despite these events, Walbridge did not send out a “Mayday” or a “Pan Pan”.13 Nor did Walbridge, HANSEN or BOUNTY
ORGANIZATION notify the USCG as required by 46 CFR 4.05-1."
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

Despite one's opinion of events, this legal action is going to be a slam dunk, from the looks of it. If they have insurance, their carrier is undoubtedly negotiating a full payout of the policy limit right now. Sounded like the owner had deep pockets, so I'll bet they are going for the jugular and looking past the insurance.

I'm also going to forecast that many who felt the Captain didn't deserve quick judgement will be more likely to toss the owner to the lions immediately. Both should be in the pit, IMO (metaphorically, I fully realize the Captain's fate has been sealed)


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post #8 of 52 Old 05-10-2013
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

Yep, mom is asking for a cool $50 million, but I suspect she really wants recognition of the injustice done. I know I would...

The quick judgment was absolutely correct and warranted by the facts as they developed.

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post #9 of 52 Old 05-10-2013
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

As one who urged waiting until the facts came in before passing judgement (and took a lot of heat for it), I think I've heard enough true facts from the investigation testimony. In my opinion, it's game over. This lawsuit will be a slam dunk. The main question will be determining appropriate damages.
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Re: Bounty Lawsuit Filed

A key issue was whether there was any communication between owner and Master. Admiralty law, as far as I know, protects the owner from decisions made by the Captain as long as there is no communication and the owner does not participate in the decision.

The legal defense will probably be:

1) The ship wasn't perfect but was legal and adequate for what she was doing aside from heading into a hurricane.

2) Wallbridge took off without consultation before the owner could do anything to stop him and recall was fruitless. The haste with which he left works in the owner's favor here.

Phone records are going to play a big role in this case which promises to be as interesting as the Arias trial to people more interested in marine events than KY Jelly.

Normally, I would expect a settlement in the blink of an eye but I suspect that the mother wants more than money from this. A settlement would almost certainly prevent her from ever speaking about it again.
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