Donna M. Young won a judgment in favor of defendant at the conclusion of plaintiffs’ case in Lloyds of London v. Pettit, in a bench trial before Hon. Chief Judge Ricardo S. Martinez in U.S. Dist. Court, Western District of Washington. Lloyds was pursuing subrogation for the 2014 destruction of six boats by fire in the Shelter Bay Marina, claiming damages of $772,237.86. Lloyds claimed that the fire started on Mr. Pettit’s yacht, the IN DECENT SEAS, in the shore power receptacle. In plaintiffs’ case, Donna presented the first photo taken of the fire, showing the flames emanating from the adjacent boat, the SHEAR JOY. Eyewitness testimony also placed the initial smoke and flames on the SHEAR JOY. Plaintiffs presented expert testimony on the cause of origin of the fire and vessel-owner maintenance standards of care. On cross examination Donna emphasized the facts which did not support the liability expert’s opinion, and weaknesses in the standard of care expert’s opinion. In written findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Court held that plaintiffs’ claimed ignition source on the IN DECENT SEAS was not supported by the credible eyewitness testimony and plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proof showing that the fire started on the IN DECENT SEAS. The court stated that the standard of care offered by plaintiffs’ expert was not a required duty under the law. The court found that Mr. Pettit was not negligent in the maintenance of his vessel, and that the IN DECENT SEAS was not unseaworthy in a manner that caused plaintiffs’ damages.
Nov 12, 2018