Tug boat capsizes aluminum boat; Sends men overboard, suit claims

Michelle Massey Sep. 27, 2010, 2:16am

Two Louisiana residents have filed a lawsuit against the owners of a tug boat who they say caused a sudden wash that capsized their boat.

Aubrey Pitre and David Bonvillian filed suit against Tiger Tugz on Sept. 13 in federal court in New Orleans.

The incident occurred on Oct. 18, 2009 as Pitre and Bonvillian were traveling in a 17-foot, flat bottom, aluminum boat along Bayou Black within Terrebonne Parish. The men approached a barge that was moored by the Max Welders facility. The barge was being maneuvered by the M/V Tiger Pride, a tug boat owned and operated by Tiger Tugz.

The men state they stopped their boat and waited approximately 15 minutes for the maneuvers to be complete. When they observed the tug boat had completed its maneuvers, Pitre and Bonvillian began to proceed along Bayou Black. As their boat began to clear the barge, the tug boat suddenly powered up and resumed maneuvers. The tug boat caused an unexpected prop wash to wash over the bow of the aluminum boat.

According to their complaint, the men jumped from the boat as it capsized and sank.

Pitre was washed under the bow of the barge moored along the banks of the Max Welders facility, the suit claims. He was found without a pulse or respiration but was revived through CPR.

Both men are seeking damages for infections due to intake of water into their lungs, aggravation of pre-existing back and neck injuries, emotional distress, medical expenses, total loss of his boat, interest and court costs. Pitre is seeking damages for loss of consciousness due to drowning. Bonvillian is seeking damages for heart attack induced by the stress of the incident.

Pitre and Bonvillian are represented by Christopher St. Martin and Joseph. Jevic, III in Houma.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv03045

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