SBI Issues Official Position on Gratton Lawsuit Settlement

In a press release issued by Super Boat International today, the organization announced that all parties in the recent case regarding the death of Joey Gratton in the 2011 Key West World Championships settled with no finding of liability on the part of SBI or any of the defendants. Additional details were not disclosed.

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A paceboat gets the racing started at the 2014 Key West World Championships in November. Photo couresy SBI

The outcome of the settlement follows last Friday’s court session held in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale. With members of the SBI family and offshore race teams thankful to have the litigation behind them, John Carbonell, SBI’s owner and founder, said he’s excited to move forward in the upcoming year.

“I hope this can bring some closure for the Gratton family,” Carbonell said in the release. “There is no winner when it comes to legal matters over someone’s life and we wish for only the best possible future for Joey’s family.”

According to the release, the legal council for SBI’s insurance company chose to settle matters prior to the defense presenting its case. Coming to a quick close proved to be a more amicable solution for all parties and spared Gratton’s family from having to testify. The release also stated that those who are involved in high-performance boating and offshore racing are aware of the inherent risks. Offshore powerboat racing is a powerful and high-performance sport and is not any different than that of Formula 1 and NASCAR. With the passion and adrenaline that comes in this type of industry, danger and accidents are unsurprising.

“The training and procedures used today have come from an evolution over the past 21 years,” David Harshfield, safety coordinator for SBI, stated in the release. “The team operation is based on the USCG Rescue Swimmer entry-level program, with the addition of SCUBA to access overturned race boats. This past July the team announced a certification from the National Association of Underwater Instructors for Offshore and Public Safety. This program requires a level of conditioning and proficiency unmatched in offshore racing.

“All team members are certified in both helicopter and boat deployment to any accident that may occur on a racecourse,” Harshfield continued. “Combined in the program is training for the racers to formulate an exit strategy and become proficient in the use of their onboard safety systems using water test “dunker” training provided throughout the racing season. We are proud to function as a team and look forward to the 2015 season.”

The settlement comes on the heels of one of the most exciting Key West World Championships in many years.

“We are now focusing all our efforts on the 2015 season and we have a lot to prepare for,” Carbonell said. “We have a full schedule and our first race is set to kick off in Cocoa Beach this May. Recently, teams have shown a great outpouring of enthusiasm for this season from building new race boats to scheduling hotels in advance to requesting details for all upcoming races.”

Click to view the entire SBI 2015 race schedule.

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