Vogelsang v. Vandale

In Collisions and Ships on (Updated )

This was a collision between two small pleasure craft on a lake. The Defendant admitted negligence but also alleged that the Plaintiff, the operator of the other vessel, had been partly at fault. When the collision occurred the Plaintiff had been heading west and the Defendant North. The Defendant was towing water tubers. The Defendant’s boat struck the Plaintiff’s boat at midship. The Court found that the vessels were both proceeding at a safe speed, the Plaintiff’s vessel had the right of way, and neither party saw the other before the collision. The Court held that the Plaintiff was not guilty of contributory negligence and the Defendant was solely liable. Damages were assessed at approximately $7,000 including $5,000 for pain and suffering. (Note: Even though the Defendant’s vessel was the give-way vessel in this situation and clearly failed to comply with Rules 15 and 16 of the Collision Regulations, the Plaintiff failed to comply with Rule 17 and, given the Plaintiff had not seen the Defendant before the collision, also failed to maintain a proper lookout contrary to Rule 5. The finding that there was absolutely no contributory fault on the part of the Plaintiff is difficult to understand.