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Our client v. Banks Maxwell Propeller Company.
Confidential settlement. Plaintiff was a young farmer who lived in Fortuna, California, in Humboldt County just south of Eureka. He purchased an airboat for fishing on one of the many shallow rivers in Humboldt County. The airboat consisted of a flat bottom boat with a 6 foot diameter propeller to power it. It resembled the airboats used in the Florida Everglades. Unfortunately, only the lower 180 degrees of the propeller travel was guarded and the upper 180 degrees was completely unguarded. While plaintiff was tuning the boat’s engine that drove the propeller he was standing in his boat in his garage. He tripped over a raised rib in the boat, hurled forward and reached out to catch himself. He tried to reach to the single horizontal bar which was part of the lower guard but missed it and his hand when into the spinning propeller amputating a good portion of it.
Plaintiff argued that the boat was defective because the propeller was inadequately guarded. Plaintiff argued that the entire anterior portion of the propeller should have been guarded. Defendant argued that plaintiff was negligent for tripping over the rib and that he should not have had the propeller running at that point. It also argued that guarding 360 degrees of the front of the propeller would reduce the propeller’s power to propel the boat.