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Legal woes remain for Dolphinite

The case over allegedly defective bottom coatings that has given way to several lawsuits was further complicated when Dolphinite Inc. — a central figure in those suits — filed for bankruptcy.

The lawsuits relate to Go-Fast and Inflatable Bottom Coat anti-fouling marketed by Dolphinite of Ipswich, Mass. Last year, consumers who used these products complained about excessive and abnormal marine growth on their bottoms. The boat owners often were forced to haul, strip and repaint their boats, according to court documents.

Clean Seas Co., a Jacksonville, Fla., paint manufacturer, entered into a distribution agreement with Dolphinite in January 2003, then subcontracted Suntec Paint Inc. of Gainesville, Fla., to manufacture the coatings.

Three New Jersey consumers filed suit a year ago against Dolphinite, Clean Seas and Suntec. A group of marinas and marine distributors filed its own lawsuit in January.

Dolphinite, Clean Seas and Suntec also are facing a lawsuit filed in February in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts by West Marine Products Inc. and United States Fire Insurance Co.

Dolphinite, which is suing both Clean Seas and Suntec, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection April 1. Clean Seas has filed a cross claim against Dolphinite.

West Marine and the distributors claim in their respective lawsuits that they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars reimbursing customers for the paint and the cost of repairs.