Lawsuit filed over 2007 boat crash

Published online: Feb 19, 2010 News MARK GUNDERMAN - www.chippewa.com

A lawsuit has been filed over a boat crash nearly three years ago that injured almost a dozen people, some of them seriously.

Derrick L. Brost, 25, now of St. Paul, Minn., was the driver of a speed boat that collided with a pontoon carrying 11 people at about 11 p.m. on Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend in 2007.

The runabout, a 19-foot fiberglass craft with an inboard engine, rode up on top of the pontoon, then came down on the left side.

Several of the injuries were quite serious, involving head trauma and broken bones, authorities said. One person was reportedly pinned under the runabout for a time.

On Tuesday, four people who were on the pontoon boat filed a civil lawsuit against Brost and two other people connected with the crash.

Plaintiffs are: Barton Chapek, 307 E. Oak St., Cadott; Bruce Johnson, 277703 Highway 64, Cornell; Tamela O'Brien, 209 E. Oak St., Cadott; and Mary Jo Wruck, 22036 160th Ave., Jim Falls. Insurance companies that paid claims for the injuries were named as involuntary plaintiffs.

Defendants in the case, along with Brost, are Kurt A. Starkey of Tomah and Janice Y. Biederman of Sheldon, along with Germantown Insurance Company and unnamed insurance companies that may have applicable policies.

Starkey is identified as the person who was in charge of the boat at the time. He allegedly allowed Brost to drive. Biederman, identified as the owner of the boat, is alleged to have allowed Starkey to use the boat that day.

The suit alleges that Brost operated the boat in a negligent fashion by driving too fast for conditions, and he did not have the experience or training to operate a boat with that much power.

The suit claims that Starkey knew Brost was not capable of handling the boat but let him drive anyway.

The suit alleges Biederman knew that Starkey did not have the experience to operate such a boat and that that he had a history of poor judgment and "was likely to use the boat in a reckless manner."

The suit seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages.

The defendants have 45 days to respond to the suit.

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