Boating Death Leads To $10 Million Settlement In Wrongful Death Claim

The surviving family members of a man who drowned off the coast of Huntington Beach earlier this year is seeking a $10 million settlement in a wrongful death claim in an attempt at an out of court settlement against Catalina Sea Ranch (CSR).

The Los Angeles Times reports that the family of Maynard Poynter, 71, is seeking the settlement, charging negligence in the case against the aquaculture company. 

Court documents indicate that on January 3rd, Poynter had been fishing in the area with a friend when the propeller of the 25-foot boat was caught in a broken underwater line belonging to CSR. The line wrapped around the propeller and caused the boat to capsize at approximately 11:25 a.m.

Emergency crews with the Huntington Beach Fire Department arrived on the scene to find two men in the water.  Paramedics performed lifesaving measures on Poynter, who was unconscious at the time. He was taken to an area hospital in critical condition.  Poynter later died a short time later at the hospital.  

The Orange County Coroner’s Office determined that drowning was the cause of Poynter’s death. 

The second man who was rescued after the incident survived.

In a letter sent to CSR by the attorneys representing the Poynter family, it’s claimed that the company failed to maintain the lines which led to Poynter’s death. 

CSR was granted a permit by the U.S. federal government to operate its 100-acre aquaculture operation in the area. An investigators report filed by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department determined that the broken line and excessive speed of the boat also contributed to the vessel capsizing.   

The report also stated that the buoyancy of the 400-foot section of the broken line created an unseen hazard that would have been difficult to avoid.   Catalina Sea Ranch was informed of the line breakage on December 17th, 2018, but did not repair or cut the line.  

Ten days after the incident on January 13th, Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies reported seeing the line floating on the surface of the water. Deputies cut 30 feet off the line to ensure public safety.

Attorneys for the Poynter family have given CSR 30 days to respond to their letter before beginning litigation.

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