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Owner of boat that hit a Boston Harbor navigational marker, leading to one passenger's death, says it's not his fault he didn't see it

A Seaport man who crashed his boat into a 40-foot-high marker in Boston Harbor in July, forcing him and his passengers into the water, where one drowned, is asking a federal judge to limit how much he can be forced to pay out for any lawsuits because, he claims, it's not his fault he plowed into the large fixed structure late one night.

In a filing in Boston federal court today, Ryan Denver, owner of the Make It Go Away, invoked a federal law dating to 1851 and originally meant to deal with storms and pirates, that limits the amounts one can sue a ship owner for to the value of the ship itself - if the owner can prove a crash was totally beyond his control.

In this case, if Denver gets the formal injunction he seeks, that would be a total of just $50,000 - all that he says the 38-foot triple-motor Pursuit DC 365 he bought new this year is now worth. Denver did not specify how much he spent on the boat, but the manufacturer lists a starting price of $620,255.

Success in the federal action will not shield Denver from trial in Suffolk Superior Court on criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, for the collision that left Jeanica Julce dead from drowning and other passengers injured after they all jumped into Boston Harbor around 2:50 a.m. on July 17.

In his federal filing, Denver said it's not his fault he had an "allision" - the nautical term for a boat crashing into a fixed object - and that Julce might have lived if not for the cowardice or sadism of another boat captain out on the water then.

Denver began his explanation of why he's not at fault for hitting the large steel structure by saying his navigational logs show that on the return trip from Quincy to Boston, he was following the same path in reverse that he took earlier from Boston to Quincy - when he did not hit Daymarker 5.

Daymarker 5 is a permanently fixed 40-foot-high steel structure between Castle Island and Spectacle Island topped with a flashing green light that helps larger craft stay in an assigned channel in the Harbor.

Limitations Plaintiff was unable to avoid the allision by the time Daymarker No. 5 came into sight; despite being on the same track line as his earlier outbound trip.

Denver continued that the marker is not painted near the water line to be reflective at night and that two ships dredging Boston Harbor at the time were shining bright lights that obscured the flashing green light. Also, as his lawyers write in a related filing, he was driving the boat in "a proper manner and at an appropriate speed."

Denver says that after the "allision" and as the boat sank, he and the other seven people on board jumped into the water, and that he and another passenger who could swim did what they could to keep the remaining passengers together.

Another boat, which Denver could not identify, approached, and the group began moving towards it, expecting to be helped out of the water, his filing continues. But then:

Without notice, the Unidentified Vessel departed the scene and failed to provide any assistance to the eight (8) people in the water, including Jeanica Julce who drowned at some point after the Unidentified Vessel departed.

The two passengers on the Unidentified Vessel were heard yelling at its operator as he left the scene: "What the hell are you doing?"

And so, he claims:

The July 17, 2021, accident with the Vessel and any and all injuries, damages, and losses claimed to have resulted from it were not caused by a breach of applicable statutes or regulations, or any type of unseaworthiness, intentional fault, neglect, lack of reasonable care, or liability by or on the part of Limitation Plaintiff or the Vessel.

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Comments

MAKE IT GO AWAY??!! What f'n problems did this Seaport addressee slash boat owner have before this happened that made him have his boat named "MAKE IT GO AWAY"??? He has no idea about my problems. Poor people problems. Struggling problems. He should have started by selling the damn recreational thing.

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But it might come from the nature of the business he runs, the one that let him buy a $620,000 boat: The nation's 16th largest demolition company.

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Always consider how it will play out in the unfortunate case that something awful happens.

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just wow. I bet he's a Trumpie with that magic space laser GPS. also, to the operator of the other boat: what the absolute fuck?

what could motivate someone to respond THAT way? Anyone have any ideas?

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…. you’re going. Stop.

Naming your boat Make It Go Away doesn’t give you magical powers.

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I am assuming that this guy was tested for alcohol & drugs...
the time of night and the area tell me that there was probably drinks involved
as a new boat owner this is my worst nightmare and why I wouldnt be boating at night going any faster than trolling speed. RIP to the young lady.

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If you can't swim, don't get in a boat at night.

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alas, if she had only been a stronger swimmer

thoughtful analysis, thanks

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If you don't have a life jacket don't go boating at night with someone who got rich demolishing things.

Or, better yet, stop blaming the victims.

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A PFD doesn't help unless you're wearing it correctly, which very few people do when they're on a relatively large boat like that. They figure they're safe. Even if they do wear it, they're real unlikely to be bringing their own, and the PFDs supplied by the vessel's owner are unlikely to fit well, assuming they have sufficient flotation.

Everyone thinks they'll have the time to find where the PFDs are stowed and put one on, and it almost never works out that way.

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Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and
hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing
circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation
and of the risk of collision.
-- Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

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Sure, the value after he wrecked and sank it. Why not?

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I believe his name is Ryan Denver, not Davis, no?

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Fixed.

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This is discusting... fist a DUI lawyer got off after causing a young woman to loose her arm, and now this a$$ is trying similar moves to minimize losses?

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I agree that it sucks for the rest of our civilized society when someone is able to escape appropriate consequences for their misdeeds, but for nearly all of the existence of these United States we have believed that no person shall be deprive of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

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for nearly all of the existence of these United States we have believed that no person shall be deprive of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

Have you by chance heard of the "plea bargain" or indeed paid any attention to the growth of the carceral state over the past forty years? Or its antecedent?

The above is only true if you have money and are White.

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I'm not going to dispute that our supposedly equal justice system has and continues to have significant inequalities.

But if our system is failing to meet it's obligation to some people under the Constitution and other laws, my suggestion is that we work harder to ensure that those who are not being properly empowered to exercise their full legal rights are finally allowed to do so, rather than disallow others from exercising the same rights, which they have been freely able to do already. Unless you actually believe that these rights written into the Constitution in its earliest days should not exist.

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They said it was disgusting that a rich dude is abusing the system that exists to avoid the consequences of his actions. Which is true.

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I'm not on this guys side, I hope he receives the fullest consequences possible. But is he unlawfully exerting any influence on the system?

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Next question.

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That he lived in tht Seaport.

Every thing about his actions, including trying to blame the fixed object and a boat captain who wasn't drunk and didn't spill his passengers into the drink, just screams "Seaport".

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The victim was black. Most Seaport residents live there because they don't want to have any black friends.

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After the first three words of Adam's post, I wondered just how far I'd have to scroll to come upon the most ignorant and irrelevant comment possible. Turns out I didn't have to scroll far at all. Congrats anonymous.

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Enough said. How can an owner operating his own vessel claim "lack of privity or knowledge" required by the statute?

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And nothing for life jackets.

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Can we just have some clarity here? Are they saying that nobody was killed in the initial collision, but one passenger drowned after some time on the water?

And is it true that out of seven passengers on the boat, only one could swim?

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But as for the first, yes, he claims nobody died in the initial crash, and that nobody was flung off the boat, but rather, everybody jumped off the boat as it was sinking.

I am not a lawyer (obviously), so I don't know what's possible in a maritime case like this, but it would be very interesting if the DA tried to present her evidence in this case, because I imagine it would tell a bit of a different story, given that the guy is facing some major felony charges.

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Thanks

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Neither of us being lawyers, I don't think we can settle this ourselves. But when you look at MA law on say, negligent operation of a motor vehicle (with or without OUI), that law is pretty clear if your negligence leads to a situation where someone subsequently dies, you are criminally responsible for their death. I'd have to imagine the threshold is even lower in civil liability.

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I can tread water for hours. I can swim extremely well. But injuries from an untoward event could change that, so I boat with a life jacket or have one handy.

Also an issue of hypothermia in Boston Harbor, even in the summer.

I wonder if the guy even had any flotation devices on board? Did people use them? Did they know where they were?

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I know someone who died of hypothermia with a lifejacket on -- a young healthy person, too. Water temp would have been in the 50s, but he was in long enough to matter.

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Boat owner + inexperienced sailor = tragedy.

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I’m a little surprised by the assault and battery charges. I’ve never even stepped foot in a law school, but I always thought assault and battery had to be intentional. And I don’t think he meant to crash or hurt anyone.

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has been there longer than the Captain has been alive.

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