WBZ reports a Suffolk Superior Court judge today set bail for Seaport resident Ryan Denver at $25,000 for the July crash into a 40-foot-tall navigational marker that forced everybody into the water, where one of them drowned.
Denver faces 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 got into Boston Harbor as the ship sank around 2:50 a.m. on July 17.
Separately, a federal judge this week agreed with a request from Denver to limit his liability from lawsuits from Julce's family and injured passengers over the crash to just $50,000, the amount he says is the value of what's left of his new three-engine boat, the Make It Go Away. The base list price of the boat he bought new earlier this year is $620,255.
However, that ruling is less than watertight. The federal law under which Denver sought to limit his potential liability, originally created to protect ship owners from suits resulting from hurricanes, pirate attacks and other causes for which they were not to blame, lets people who might bring lawsuits appeal the "limit of liability" decision.
And a 1998 decision in a federal case in Boston that is similar to Denver's holds that the limitation could go out the porthole if the ship owner was also the ship captain.
In that case, a woman injured in a boat crash sued the boat's owner who, like Denver, acknowledged he was at the helm when his vessel crashed. And that, the judge ruled, meant the law didn't apply, because it limits liability in crashes that occur "without privity or the owner's knowledge" and if the owner is behind the ship's wheel, then he obviously knows about the crash.
In his filing seeking a limit on his lawsuit liability, Denver acknowledged he was piloting the Make It Go Away when it hit Daymarker 5. But he claimed the crash was totally not his fault, because he was operating his craft safely and following the same GPS path into Boston Harbor, in reverse, as he followed when he sailed out of Boston Harbor, when he didn't hit the marker. Plus, he says, the marker was not coated in light-reflecting material at the water line and the flashing green light at the top was obscured by bright lights from two larger ships dredging the harbor at the time.
Also, he says, Julce's death was not his fault, either, but rather the fault of the captain of a mystery ship that approached the eight Make It Go Away people, all in the water after the crash, who suddenly turned and abandoned them. By the time the Coast Guard and other first responders arrived, Julce was missing; her body was found several hours later.