Judge dismisses satellite phone lawsuit

Published on December 19th, 2014

San Diego, CA (December 19, 2014) – A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a San Diego couple who blamed a nonfunctioning satellite phone for the loss of their sailboat during a highly-publicized rescue off the coast of Mexico earlier this year.

Charlotte and Eric Kaufman contended in their lawsuit, filed in July, that they would not have lost their boat if they hadn’t lost satellite service. In April, the couple were two weeks into the first part of a planned trip around the world when their younger daughter became sick. The sailboat was damaged during bad weather, and they called the U.S. Coast Guard, but their satellite phone stopped working a short time later.

Unwilling to gamble with their daughter’s health, they then activated an emergency device on the vessel, prompting a response from California Air National Guard members who parachuted to the family and stayed with them until a Navy ship carried them back to shore.

Their boat was left at sea and sank.

The ruling, issued Wednesday by San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes, cited a provision in the contract signed by Eric Kaufman with the satellite phone company, Whenever Communications. The provision required the holder of the contract to file any lawsuits against the company in Florida, where its headquarters are located.

Matthew Herron, an attorney who represents Whenever Communications, said the company had been in the process of switching SIM card providers for months, and that it was a different company that shut off the service to the Kaufmans’ phone.

Attorney Dan Gilleon, who represents the family, said Friday that the Kaufmans would file their lawsuit in Florida.

Source: U-T San Diego

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