Client Win: A Tale of Two Verdicts (Part II)

On Friday, May 3, 2019, at 1:40 PM, the family of Raven Little was able to get justice for their tremendous loss in a Columbus County courtroom. Raven, their 16-year-old daughter, sister, and grandchild, was killed because an irresponsible boat owner failed to follow safety warnings that would have protected the minors on his boat from being poisoned.

The Incident

In June 2016, Raven and 10 other children and teenagers were spending the day on the defendant’s boat at Lake Waccamaw. The boat was used for wakeboarding and wake surfing, and the defendant boat owner was not present.

The defendant left his 15-year-old son and 17-year-old friend in charge. The kids were sitting on the back of the swim platform, despite the fact that the platform was not to be used for sitting while the boat was in motion.

Raven and another girl suddenly began acting strangely. The other girl managed to get inside the boat before she passed out. By this time, however, Raven had slipped into the water.

The Damage

When Raven did not surface and could not be located, the authorities believed that she had drowned. But it was eventually determined that Raven died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The deadly gas is in the exhaust of every gas motor but stays in the air around the motor even when the boat is moving slowly. Raven was poisoned because she was sitting too close to the motor.

Sitting on the platform near the motor is unlawful because it is dangerous. Even though the boat manual and the mandatory licensing courses say that no one should ever be on the swim platform when the boat is in motion, the defendant boat owner allowed the teens to sit there while the boat was driven around the lake by his son and friend. The weight the girls put on the platform made the boat’s wake bigger so that the teens could have more fun wake surfing.

The Trial

The trial testimony proved that the defendant failed to choose the safe way to weigh down the boat: by pushing a button and starting an automatic system.

After nearly a day of deliberating at the Columbus County courthouse, the jury found that the boat owner was responsible for Raven Little’s death. The jury then heard evidence of damages, including Raven’s extraordinary life.

“She would always make me laugh, her personality was so great, everyone was just so happy around her,” said a friend.

A Winning Verdict for a Deserving Teen

Raven played volleyball and ran cross country at Whiteville High School. She loved swimming and being outdoors, and was an active member in her church youth group. The jury compensated Raven’s mother in the amount of $100,000

Although she is gone, Raven is not forgotten—a part in a new boater safety program was named “Raven’s Rule” in order to help educate boaters about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from a boat motor.

Raven’s legacy will live on in the hearts of her friends and family forever.

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