Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Worst. Lawsuit. Ever.

This is the craziest I've ever seen. It is at least in the top five. In brief?

A Broadmoor man who said he rescued more than 200 residents after commandeering a boat during the flood after Hurricane Katrina is being sued by the boat's owner for taking it "without receiving permission."
Boggles the mind.

Humid Haney is not a fan. Meanwhile, YRHT takes a more "modest-proposal-meets-no-tolerance" approach.

So what if I have a boat that might be used to rescue hundreds of people during a flood-- that's none of your business, is it?! Just because I might own a vital commodity, that doesn't give others the right to trespass on my property and take my possessions. If these so-called "heroes" want to do rescues let 'em buy their own boats (or build them, like Samuel White did). Why should they get to stink up my craft with uninvited guests, and scratch it on sunken debris?
Here's hoping the judge laughs this one right out of the courtroom (as if New Orleans judges didn't have more pressing matters on their docket....). The plaintiff lists among his grievances: "mental anguish" and "embarassment."

Something tells me that his mental anguish and embarassment are about to increase somewhat...


dadvocate said...

The boat owner is a sleaze ball. Wait, that's an insult to sleaze balls everywhere.

Of course, there's the attorney, I assume, who is more than willing to represent Mr. Sleaze. Jees. There's a big difference between stealing big screen TV's and using someone's boat to rescue people.

Dante said...

So I'm going to break my silence on all things Katrina for a minute to look into this not because I particularly care about hurricane-related events, but because this story involves two things that interest me: boating and insurance. There's also the small matter of everyone jumping on the same pitfully easy to exploit angle on this story.

My first question was, "Did this guy really use these boats to rescue people or is this just a ruse for looting boats?" It looks pretty clear that Morice did use the boat for rescue purposes. That doesn't mean he didn't sell off the boat afterwards (he did take 3 boats after all), but I can't see anyone successfully making the case that Morice did rescue folks but sold off the boats afterwards.

My next question was, "Why is Lyons suing? Didn't he get an insurance check?" He did indeed but Lyons is claiming that he "had received less than half the replacement value of the boat and its motor from their insurance." Lyons then asks Morice for $12K to "settle this matter."

I'm still wondering at this point how the value could be so off between what Lyons is expecting and what the insurance company offered. It was time to consult NADA and BUC to see what a 1998 Sea Sport 180 is worth. That was very interesting. Nada refused to price a Sea Sport claiming, "THESE ARE CUSTOM MADE-TO-ORDER BOATS. VALUES ARE NOT AVAILABLE DUE TO LIMITED RESALE ACTIVITY. N.A.D.A. RECOMMENDS A MARINE SURVEY TO OBTAIN AN ACCURATE VALUE. PLEASE CONTACT THE MANUFACTURER FOR FURTHER INFORMATION." BUC had some values but there weren't any for a 1998 18' model. Also, I did notice that there's no such thing as a Sea Sport 180 but in boatspeak 180 is typically a 17' - 19' boat (My Galaxy 190 is a 18' 6" boat for example and a Sea Ray 180 is a 17' 6" boat.)

It was time to go to the Boat Trader to see what a similar boat is selling for. Lo and behold they're selling for about $10,000. Even with a monster outboard, I doubt Lyons could push this figure over $13,000. So why does he think it should've been worth presumably $24,000? (He got half of what he thought it was worth and asked for $12,000 so I'm assuming he thinks it's worth $24,000.)

I had a sneaking suspiscion why. The boat cost about $40,000 new. That's just what a custom boat that size is worth back in 98. Now if Mr. Lyons were to put the customary 15% down on the boat, he would've financed about $34,000. The thing you have to watch in the boating industry is that they try to finance you for absurd periods of time. Back in 1998 there was a new financing option: 15 years. No, I'm not kidding. 15 years. What's sad is that it's pretty commonplace nowadays. If he were to jump on the low payment bandwagon in 1998 and go 15 years, he would owe somewhere in the neighborhood of $24,000 when the hurricane hit. A-ha.

So out of this story of frivilous lawsuits and boat rescues we have derived an actual moral: don't finance your boat for 15 years! You'll always be upside down and by quite a big margin. There is a secondary moral to not sue a resuer to recoup the costs of your own mistakes but I think that will be covered to death so I won't dwell on it.