How much do you feel your child is worth? In the wrongful death lawsuit of junior lifeguard student, Allyssa Squirrell, the attorneys for the city of Huntington Beach insurance company have filed a petition to cap the city’s liability at $26,100.
Navigator’s insurance claims that the city’s liability is limited to the value of the boat due to admiralty law. In this case, the boat was worth $26,100. The Squirrell family attorney countered back with warnings to all junior lifeguard families-did you know that this program values your child the same as it does a boat?
This case will continue to be a battle between the city of Huntington Beach, insurance companies and attorneys. Having a wrongful death claim is never easy because it forces people to put a value on a person’s life.
This tragedy happened in July 2009 when then 11- year old Allyssa Squirrell was participating in the junior lifeguard program in Huntington Beach. Squirrell was killed during a routine training exercise called “speed drops”. The maneuver requires lifeguard boats to drop the youth off the back of a moving boat to simulate a water rescue beyond the surf line. She had not rejoined her training group yet when the boat turned around and the propeller struck her in the leg and hip. She later died in surgery and the autopsy revealed that she died of severe injuries to the back, leg and hip.
It was the first death in the program’s 45-year history and the driver of the boat, Marine Safety Lt. Greg Crow was obviously devastated. He voluntarily took a toxicology test to rule out drugs and alcohol as the cause. The incident was simply ruled a tragic accident. However, this tragic accident left an Orange County family without their precious daughter.
Even though no criminal charges were filed against Crow, the family went forward with their suit against the city of Huntington Beach for their daughter’s wrongful death due to negligence. The suit alleges that the employees of the program violated three boating rules; not decreasing their boating speed within 100 feet of swimmers, not having proper flotation devices and they didn’t operate the boat in safe manner. In addition to the boating rules, the suit alleges general negligence on the part of the employees on the boat for not looking out properly for the youths’ safety.
The Squirrell family attorney has attempted to settle with the city of Huntington Beach but now with the new petition in federal court for capped liability limits; it looks like the judicial process will be a lengthy one. Fortunately, I am familiar with the Squirrell attorney and he is competent and experienced. For more information on wrongful death claims please visit this link to many articles and posts on this important topic, from a California wrongful death attorney .