A federal court has upheld a $25 million settlement reached in a personal injury lawsuit as jurors were deliberating. The plaintiff was rendered quadriplegic as a result of a fall he suffered in a boat injury on the coastal waters of Lake Michigan, where he fell from the yacht’s stern top deck to its stern wall deck.
The accident happened back in 2009 while the vessel was anchored. The plaintiff and his wife filed for damages against the manufacturer of the boat and its parent company, as well as the yacht company. The plaintiffs sought damages for the injuries sustained. The plaintiffs asserted negligence and strict liability against the boat company and its manufacturer. Against the yacht company, they alleged an additional negligence claim and also loss of consortium.
Although the manufacturer and its subsidiary reached an eleventh-hour deal to settle its portion of the claim, the defendant filed a lawsuit against the plaintiff’s attorney and the court’s clerk, challenging the validity of the settlement agreement and claiming it was not made aware of a jury note that was passed to the judge just one hour before that settlement deal was reached. Specifically, jurors submitted a handwritten question to the court at 3:50 p.m., asking if they could find fault with the yacht company without finding the boat manufacturer liable for damages. That was back in June 2015. But, the manufacturer now argues, the court did not disclose this information to its attorneys before the deal was finalized, just a few minutes later.