Collision in Galveston Bay has boaters awash in litigation

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau May 14, 2008, 12:55pm

GALVESTON � An incident between two boaters that occurred in Galveston Bay two years ago is the source of a lawsuit between a Harris County woman and a Houston man.

The Perfect Match, a 2003 Catalina 310, which carried Elizabeth Worthington, traversed the waters between Houston and Galveston sometime around May 20, 2006, when the Erin McKenzie, a 2004 Beneteau 373, struck and damaged the former, alleges a lawsuit filed on May 9 in Galveston County District Court.

Worthington subsequently sustained injuries to her ribcage and back, according to the suit, and is seeking damages from Dennis Peck, owner of the Erin McKenzie. She brings up charges of negligence and infraction of maritime law against him.

Worthington's ship reportedly had limited mobility when the accident occurred.

"At the time of that the Erin McKenzie rammed into the Perfect Match, the Perfect Match was 'in irons,' taking down the sails directly into the wind, a situation resulting in extremely restricted maneuverability, which was evident to the Defendant," states the case.

The suit insists Worthington and the Perfect Match had the right-of-way on the water because both were in "stand-on vessel position" as opposed to Peck and the Erin McKenzie, asserting they "were in compliance with the applicable maritime Navigation Rules, known as COMDTINST M16672.2D."

"At the relevant times, Defendant and the Erin McKenzie were in the 'give-way vessel position,' and therefore were required to yield right-of-way to Plaintiff and the Perfect Match, which Defendant and the Erin McKenzie failed to yield such right-of-way, resulting in the negligent and unlawful collision into the Plaintiff and the Perfect Match, with resulting injuries and damages to the Plaintiff and the Perfect Match," it explains.

"Defendant had the responsibility for operating his vessel in a safe and prudent manner, and in accordance with the applicable maritime regulations, and his failure to do so cause Plaintiff to suffer personal injuries, property and other damages."

Worthington has enlisted the services of attorney Robert J. O'Conor Jr.

Judge John Ellisor, 122th District Court, is presiding over the case.

Case No. 08CV0492

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