Family Prepares Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Capsize Incident off Huntington Beach

capsize incident, wrongful death

One year after a fatal offshore injury off Huntington Beach, the victim’s family is prepared to file a wrongful death lawsuit against an offshore aquaculture facility.  The Poynter family has sent a letter to the facility and is allowing them time to respond before formally filing the wrongful death lawsuit.

Capsize Incident off Huntington Beach

It was January 2019 when 71-year-old Maynard Poynter joined a friend for a fishing excursion.  The pair boarded Poynter’s friends 25-foot boat, the Contender, and headed out from Sunset Aquatic Marina.  At around 10 a.m., in the area of Catalina Sea Ranch, the boat owner noticed that the transom – the flat portion of the stern – had become submerged.  Poynter fell overboard and shortly thereafter, the boat capsized.

The owner swam under the capsized boat to retrieve the emergency radio beacon.  At 10:32 a.m. the U.S. Coast Guard received the alert.  The boat was located about six miles off Huntington Beach.  When the Coast Guard arrived, both men were in the water.  The owner was holding Poynter’s head above water.  He was unresponsive at the scene.

At 11:20 a.m., the men were pulled from the water.  Rescuers performed lifesaving measures on Poynter then transported him to a local hospital.  Unfortunately, he died later that day, reportedly from drowning.  The other man was taken to the hospital with critical injuries.  He survived.

Determining the Cause of the Capsize Incident

An investigation was initiated after the capsize incident to determine the cause.  Investigators determined that a 400 foot section of coiled line was broken and had been tied to an adjacent line.  The investigators report says,

“The buoyancy of the line created an unseen hazard that would have been very difficult to avoid.”

The lines belonged to Catalina Sea Ranch, which is an offshore aquaculture facility that manages an underwater farm.  Through a federal permit, Catalina Sea Ranch cultivates abalone, oysters, scallops, mussels, giant kelp and macro algae.  They are the first facility in the U.S. to operate under such a permit.

Catalina Sea Ranch has permits allowing them to install up to 40 lines reaching up to 689 feet long.  The lines are drilled into the sea floor.  The ranch must keep all lines at least 20 feet below the surface to prevent entanglement.  Investigators report that Catalina Sea Ranch was aware of a break in one of the lines as of December 2018, but had not repaired it.

Even after the capsize incident, Catalina Sea Ranch still failed to repair the lines.  Sheriff’s deputies returned to the incident site 10 days after the capsize and found a line floating at the surface.  It was drifting with the current.  Deputies attempted to tie off the line, but were unsuccessful.  They eventually cut the line and removed about 30 feet.

Family Prepares to File Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The Poynter family is preparing to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Catalina Sea Ranch.  They argue that the facility’s negligence led to the death of their loved one.  They have sent a letter to Catalina Sea Ranch asking them to settle the matter for $10 million.  In their letter to Catalina Sea Ranch, the Poynter family says,

“CSR’s negligent conduct before this incident and continued reckless disregard for the safety of the public after this incident as they refused to cut the line evidences a persistent effort to place profits over safety.”

If Catalina Sea Ranch does not respond to the letter, or if their response is unsatisfactory, the Poynter family will proceed with the wrongful death lawsuit.

Information About Wrongful Death Lawsuits

When one person is killed due to the negligence of someone else, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit.  In order to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the family member – generally a spouse, parent or child – must establish the following:

  • That a death occurred
  • The death was caused by the negligence of someone else
  • The surviving family are suffering monetary injuries due to the death

Generally, the surviving family suffers monetary injuries due to medical, funeral or burial costs.  Also, there may be a loss of income or benefits.

Wrongful death lawsuits occur in a variety of situations, including:

When the surviving family files a wrongful death lawsuit, they can pursue damages, or compensation for what they have lost.  In wrongful death lawsuits, the following damages may be sought:

  • The victim’s pre-death pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses occurring before death
  • Funeral and/or burial costs
  • Loss of:
    • Expected income
    • Benefits or inheritance
    • Care, nurturing, guidance or companionship
    • Consortium (between spouses)

Of course, there is no real compensation for the loss of a loved one, but recovering damages is a way of helping families avoid financial hardship.  A wrongful death lawsuit is also a way of holding the responsible party accountable for their negligence.

Want to Know More about Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

In the case of the capsize incident, the Poynter family may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against Catalina Sea Ranch.  There are many reasons why families may pursue a maritime injury-related wrongful death claim.  Individuals who work on ships, oil rigs, docks or commercial fishing boats are at risk for accidents like the capsize incident.  There are also risks on cruise ships, private boats and near docks for tourists and the general public.

There are risks to working in the maritime industry or traveling by boat.   Even so, those who are in charge must follow guidelines and safety protocols.  Similarly, companies who share docks or navigable water must also follow guidelines to ensure that they are not creating a hazard for others.

If you want to learn more about maritime laws or wrongful death lawsuits, Maritime Injury Guide can help.  We offer a plethora of information and resources to help you understand your rights and options.  Get the help you need if you or someone you love has an injury due to working or traveling in the maritime industry.

To request more information or a free injury consultation, call Maritime Injury Guide at 1-866-871-8422.  You can also contact us via email through our online form.