Posted on Jul 29, 2006
Jury awards $11 million in deaths of boaters from carbon monoxide
By Robert Patrick
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
A St. Louis jury awarded $11 million Thursday to relatives of a Joplin couple killed at the Lake of the Ozarks by carbon monoxide from their boat's generator.
Lois and Randy Anderson and two friends were killed June 1, 1999, when the corroded exhaust pipe of the 40-foot cabin cruiser's generator leaked carbon monoxide into the cabin, the suit said.
The Andersons' son and daughter, and the mothers of both Lois and Randy Anderson, sued the generator's manufacturer, Kohler Co., and Oklahoma marina owner Bratco Inc. Relatives of the other victims, John C. Harris and Robert A. Stein, settled their lawsuits before trial, lawyers said.
To find for the Anderson family, jurors had to believe that Wisconsin-based Kohler sold a generator that was defective and "unreasonably dangerous," and that the defect led to the death of the Andersons, according to court documents. Tom Weaver, a lawyer for Kohler, would not comment on the verdict or the case.
Bratco settled the case minutes before the jury came back with a verdict, lawyer Kevin Schnurbusch said.
The lawsuit said that Bratco, the owner of an Oklahoma marina that did work on the boat before it was moved to the Lake of the Ozarks, should have caught the problem.
Schnurbusch said the marina was supposed to do work on the boat, including replacing the generator's water pump and changing the oil, but was not supposed to do an inspection.
Jurors said that Kohler was 67 percent at fault in Lois Anderson's death, and that Bratco was 23 percent at fault. Lois Anderson, they said, was 10 percent responsible for her own death because she failed to check and maintain the generator.
Jurors said that Kohler was 55 percent at fault in Randy Anderson's death and Bratco was 25 percent at fault, with the remaining 20 percent assigned to Randy Anderson.
In 2003, a different St. Louis jury awarded the family members more than $500,000 in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages, but the judge in that case threw out the verdict and ordered a new trial.