Business Litigation, Chicago, Client Results, Firm News, Johnson & Bell

In Boat Dispute, Ellenbecker, Sherer Torpedo Plaintiff’s $800K Demand

September 20, 2022

Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Stephen P. Ellenbecker, and Attorney, Michael R. Sherer, secured a jury verdict in favor of their clients over the sale of a 33’ boat, a 2017 Chaparral 337 SSX, to the plaintiff in 2018.  In this case, plaintiff sued the boat dealer and the boat and engine manufacturers alleging breaches of express and implied warranty against all three defendants due to claims that the boat experienced steering problems throughout plaintiff’s two-year ownership. Plaintiff also alleged statutory and common law fraud claims against the dealer for not disclosing that the boat had prior hours of use on it as a “demonstrator” vessel prior to being purchased by plaintiff.

On behalf of the three defendants, Ellenbecker and Sherer argued that the boat was merchantable at the time of sale, that any defects were caused by plaintiff’s own misuse, and that a full disclosure of the boat’s prior use was made to plaintiff several times prior to completion of the purchase. 

After a two-week jury trial before Judge Esrig, in closing, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award more than $800,000 in damages. Plaintiff purchased the boat for just over $200,000. In addition to compensatory damages, plaintiff was seeking punitive damages for the dealer’s allegedly fraudulent conduct. After deliberating for just over two hours, the jury returned a verdict in favor of all three defendants on the claims for breach of express and implied warranty as well as the common law fraud claims.  

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