Crownline settles boat-crash lawsuit

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Lawyers for five victims of a fatal 2009 Easter boat crash in Palm Valley, Fla., settled their lawsuit against the boatbuilder.

Terms of the settlement are confidential, and lawyers for the plaintiffs and Crownline Boats declined to comment to The Florida Times-Union newspaper.

Three injured people and two representatives of deceased victims sued the boatbuilder in federal court shortly after the 2009 crash, arguing that the design of the Crownline 225BR was inherently unsafe.

The 22-foot pleasure boat struck a tugboat moored in the Intracoastal Waterway just north of the Palm Valley bridge, killing five people and injuring nine.

Maritime lawyer Rod Sullivan declined to comment, but he said when he filed one of the lawsuits that Crownline promoted the boat as being capable of safely transporting 12 people. That means five have to sit in the bow, forward of the boat's windscreen. State and federal maritime officials consider that unsafe, he said, because it subjects those passengers to ejection and blocks the driver's view, the newspaper reported.

Several victims were thrown from the boat into the side of the tug.

Although there were 14 people on the boat, Sullivan said that did not contribute to the accident. He said witnesses told him the boat driver's view was obstructed by passengers on the bow.

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