Ocean Planet dispute
Apparently everybody saw it. January 2006 at Key West Race Week. It was big news at the time, when Michael Kehew's heavily modified Kiwi 35 In Theory came to the regatta with high hopes but was sunk before the first gun. The owners of the modified Kiwi live in Rhode Island, where they prepped the boat for two years, painted it, put in a carbon mast, bought new sails, and had it trucked to Key West for the event. However, while docked prior to the event, In Theory was struck by another boat and sunk.
Three years later, Kehew is now in court. At the time, In Theory was docked at Key West when Bruce Schwab - a noted solo sailor - was trying to singlehand his Open 60 Ocean Planet away from the sea wall in rough weather (Schwab said his docklines had chafed through). Schwab collided with In Theory, but when his insurer refused to pay for the Kiwi 35, and with litigation required to occur in Florida, the situation languished. However, when Schwab started working and visiting RI, he established sufficient status under R.I. law and was served in November 2008.
Litigation has recently commenced in Newport, R.I. between Kehew and Schwab, but there are likely no winners in this case. The Kiwi 35 owners have already suffered a great loss. For Schwab, who assumed his insurance company had covered the claim, lost use of his boat and the anticipated earnings from the OceanPlanet Foundation’s fundraising/training sailing programs, resulting in him having to file for personal bankruptcy in 2007. The legal question appears to concern how Schwab’s insurance policy only covers liability in the case of negligence on the part of the insured, and not cases that involved acts of weather. The lawsuit is expected to take 2 years to resolve.
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