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In re Complaint and Petition of United States

United States District Court, D. Utah

April 15, 2019

In Re: the Complaint and Petition of the United States of America in a Cause for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability with Respect to National Park Service and Public Vessels Buoy Tender No. 450, No. 257, No. 2510, No. 256, No. 2511, and No. 290 Re: the Grounding of a 21' Speedboat in or near Bullfrog Bay on Lake Powell, Utah, on July 24, 2016.

          Paul Kohler Magistrate Judge.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING CLAIMANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          David Nuffer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff-in-Limitation All In Boat Rentals, Inc. (“All In”) filed a Complaint in Cause For Exoneration From or Limitation of Liability (“Complaint”) with respect to a grounding accident that occurred on July 24, 2016.[1] Claimants D.D. and G.D., minors, by and through their Guardian ad Litem Paul Theut (“Theut”); Tara Gagliardi; and Jeffrey Darland (collectively “Claimants”) each filed a motion for summary judgment on All In's Complaint on the basis that it was untimely filed.[2] On February 22, 2019, a hearing was held on the Claimants' Motions for Summary Judgment.[3] As discussed below, Claimants' Motions for Summary Judgment are granted.

         Contents

         Standard of Review ......................................................................................................................... 4

         Discussion ....................................................................................................................................... 4

         Claimants' September 26, 2016 Letter provided written notice of a claim subject to the Limitation Act ......................................................................................................... 6

         All In was required to file its limitation action within 6 months of receiving the September 26, 2016 Letter. . .................................................................................... 7

         Order…. . ......................................................................................................................................... 8

         UNDISPUTED FACTS[4]

         1. On July 24, 2016, Jeffrey Darland was operating a rented 2006 Cobalt 21' foot 10 Series 200 runabout (“Cobalt”) in Bullfrog Bay, Utah when he and passengers D.D. and G.D., were involved in a grounding accident (“Grounding”).[5]

         2. The Grounding occurred at or near dusk when the Cobalt's outdrive hit a submerged unmarked rocky shoal (“Shoal”) that was located near the main channel, and slightly over 1, 000 feet off the eastern shore of Bull Frog Bay, adjacent to a land formation commonly known as Haystack Rock and through the Halls Crossing intersection.[6]

         3. D.D. and G.D. were ejected from the Cobalt when it hit the Shoal.[7]

         4. The momentum of the runabout carried it over D.D. and his arm was nearly severed, and ultimately amputated, and his leg was amputated by the Cobalt's propeller.[8]

         5. G.D. was right next to his brother, D.D., and helped bring D.D. back to the Cobalt.[9]

         6. All In was the owner of the Cobalt at the time of the Grounding.[10]

         7. The Cobalt's sales price was $24, 260 on April 16, 2016.[11]

         8. At the time of the Grounding, the Cobalt was valued at or below $24, 000.[12]

         9. The Cobalt was rented from All In by Jeffrey Darland.[13]

         10. All In received the following letter dated September 26, 2016 (“September 26, 2016 Letter”) from Claimants' counsel:

Dear Sir/Madam:
Aiken Schenk Hawkins & Ricciardi PC through Ty Taber and Banning LLP through Bill Banning have been retained to represent [D.D.] and the Darland family for injuries received in a boat incident of July 24, 2016.
This letter is to put you on notice of our claims against All-In Boat Rentals Inc. and to request information concerning insurance policy coverages available to All-In. This is a very significant injury case. [D.D.] has lost his right arm at his elbow and right leg at his knee. The medical bills are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Let me know what needs to be done to open a claim, so that we can resolve expeditiously any medical payments or coverages that might be available to help the Darlands with their significant medical bills. In addition, we are looking at ...

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