Backs propeller boat into victim, manufacturer liable

Jacob Brochtrup jumped into the water to retrieve a tow rope, and was gravely injured when the boat’s driver, who didn’t know he was there, backed the boat up. A Texas federal jury has now found the Brunswick Corp. partly to blame and told it to pay $3.8 million. His attorney argued that “manufacturers could make boats and motors safer by installing guards on propellers and placing a shield over the back,” something that current boat designs do not do. [Austin American-Statesman via Continuous Wave] Related: March 19 (tablesaw design not adopted by industry). More: Abnormal Use.


  • At some point we as a nation are going to have to admit that a jury of our peers no longer works. It would probably be fairer to just pull twelve names out of a hat. Couldn’t be any worse.

  • How about instead of names of jurors they just put the range of awards (everything from “Your great grandchildren are set for life” to “The defendant owns your entire family”). Of course, with the way lawyers are, they could rack up hundreds of thousands of expenses just wrangling over how the drawing was to occur.

  • Hmmm. The concept of “drag” comes to mind as a legitimate defense here.

  • Clearly the real party at fault are the companies that refined, delivered, and sold the gasoline that was placed in the boat’s engine. If it weren’t for these companies’ unconscionable negligence and greed, the propeller wouldn’t have been spinning around in such an obviously dangerous way.

    And don’t even get me started on the misdeeds of the sinister tow-rope manufacturers’ lobby.

    “It would probably be fairer to just pull twelve names out of a hat. Couldn’t be any worse. ”

    It would probably be bit improvement, actually. Even better would be to prevent stupid cases like this from coming to trial in the first place.

  • Wouldn’t guards and a shield around the propeller defeat the propeller’s purpose? Maybe one could make it like a cooling fan, but then vegetation in the body of water one was boating in could get all caught up in it and cause more problems that people could sue for because those would be foreseen as well.

  • I’ve thought for years that NASA was recklessly endangering the safety of pedestrians walk near the Shuttle launch sites.

    Why won’t NASA install baffles and shields to divert the flames and gases that belch from their smelly rocket motor thingies, anyway? Someday someone will get hurt and there will be a reckoning I can tell you.