When the insurance company wins

Published on November 6th, 2019

While this story has enough elements to interest Hollywood, it also demonstrates how the legal system will support insurance companies when boat maintenance is not adequately executed.

Nathan Carman made ‘faulty’ adjustments to his boat that, ultimately, caused it to sink three years ago, presumably with his mother aboard, according to a federal court judge on November 4 in Providence, RI.

In September 2016, Nathan Carman and his mother set off from Rhode Island on a fishing trip near block canyon. Nathan was found a week later floating in a life raft. He was rescued by a cargo ship. His mother, Linda Carman, was never found.

National Liability and Fire Insurance refused to pay out Carman’s policy when he filed a claim for his boat sinking.

Accusations quickly surfaced that Carman had killed his mother and sank the boat on purpose. Accusers would say Carman killed his mom to inherit millions from his late grandfather’s estate.

It came out soon after that Nathan Carman had been considered a suspect in his grandfather’s death and his aunts filed a lawsuit trying to prevent him from collecting his share of the inheritance from John Chakolos’ estate.

That lawsuit was removed from a New Hampshire court earlier this year over a dispute about Chakolos’ residency. Also on Monday, it was announced the New Hampshire Supreme Court would review that decision.

The fight over Carman’s insurance policy landed in federal court, where Judge John McConnell issued his decision on November 4 that Carman had made “faulty” repairs to his boat, which caused it to sink.

The finding backed up the insurance company’s decision to deny Carman’s claim.

“Because the facts show that Mr. Carman made improper and faulty repairs to his boat that contributed to its sinking, Exclusion D in the Policy excludes the claimed loss,” Judge McConnell wrote.

The insurance company presented witness testimony from people at the marina where Carman stored his boat, the Chicken Pox. Witnesses said they saw Carman removing the trim tabs and drilling holes in the hull that were not properly repaired. The boat was never recovered.

“The removal of the trim tabs and the faulty repairs rendered the boat unseaworthy and in poor condition,” the insurance company claimed in court. “Having four holes in the back of a boat lends itself to taking water on. It is more likely than not that this improper repair at least indirectly caused water to fill up the bilge, causing the boat to sink.”

Source: Boston 25 News

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