Posted in Archives on December 13, 2011
On February 26, 2004, a Napa County Jury awarded $3,759,524 to a 48 year old woman and her husband against Polaris Industries, Inc., when the plaintiffs established that the watercraft was defective with respect to design features to protect against rearward ejection of passengers during the operation of the watercraft. In this case the passenger landed in the water on her back with her legs up, and the destructive force of the boat’s water jet destroyed the passenger’s anal sphincter and caused other internal injuries. The manufacturer alleged that it was the fault of the passenger for not wearing a wetsuit or protective clothing, and for failing to hold on properly. The jury found no comparative fault of the passenger and placed the entire blame on the manufacturer for failing to provide an easily identifiable method for the passenger to secure herself in the event she was unable to hold onto the driver. This represented one of the largest personal injury awards in the history of Napa County and one of the first major victories for watercraft passengers suffering orifice injuries from these hazardous vessels.