Plaintiffs Seek Over $15 Million In Damages In Tugboat Deaths

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Plaintiffs are now seeking over $15 million in damages in Federal Court in a tugboat accident June 19 of last year on the Tennessee River near Soddy Daisy in which two fishermen were killed.

The Serodino firm, owner of the Bearcat tug, earlier filed an action in Federal Court asking the court to declare it was not negligent and that the value of the Bearcat did not exceed $1.1 million and its freight at the time not more than $11,615.

David Wilkey, who was the lone survivor on the aluminum fishing boat, is asking $75,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

Janie Laymon, administrator of the estate of Richard Wilkey, is asking $2.5 million and unspecified punitive damages. He is represented by attorneys Jerry Summers and Jeff Rufolo.

At the time of the Serodino filing, the family of the other victim, 42-year-old Timothy Spidle, had not filed a claim.

Attorney Andy Berke, who also represents David Wilkey, later filed suit for Patricia A. Thurman of Calhoun County, Mich., administrator of the Spidle estate. It asks $2.5 million compensatory damages and $5 million punitive damages.

The suits ask for the punitive damages "to make an example of Serodino and deter others from similar conduct."

It was claimed there was no lookout and no horn or siren were sounded as the tug was pushing a 671-foot-long and 105-foot-wide barge that struck the fishing boat.

Serodino attorneys say the fishermen were negligent and had the boat in the channel of the river.

Richard Wilkey, the 52-year-old uncle of David Wilkey, is survived by two brothers and five sisters. Timothy Spidle, of Elizabethton, Tn., is survived by four children.

The suits claim Serodino failed to boost safety procedures despite "the pleas of former employee Kelly O'Connor and despite an accident a year before that killed another fisherman." In that incident, the Bearcat was pushing a barge that struck a fishing boat on Watts Bar Lake on June 26, 2009, that claimed the life of Jones Bower Bare, 53, of Trap Hill, N.C.

Mr. O'Connor, a former pilot for the Serodino firm, in a separate federal suit, said the company was negligent in its river operations, causing the two accidents in which three people were killed in a 12-month time.

Saying he was fired for speaking out about alleged unsafe practices by the firm, he is asking back and forward pay as well as punitive damages.

Charles Warren Luetke, 39, of Soddy Daisy, the operator of the Bearcat tugboat, was indicted for two counts of criminally negligent homicide in the collision that killed the two fishermen on June 19, 2010.

His case is pending in the courtroom of Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman.


Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Red Bank Commission Pays Tribute To Terry Pope

Senator Blackburn To Google: You Push The Boundaries Until Your Hand Gets Slapped


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: BARTHLOW, JAMES KEITH 197 THOMAS WAY LAN EVENSVILLES, 37332 Age at Arrest: 29 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ... (click for more)

Red Bank Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday night to honor Red Bank Vice Mayor Terry Pope, who died unexpectedly June 22. He served the city for numerous years in many capacities -as a ... (click for more)

Senator Marsha Blackburn spoke on Tuesday at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing on “Google and Censorship through Search Engines.” In her remarks, Senator Blackburn ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: BARTHLOW, JAMES KEITH 197 THOMAS WAY LAN EVENSVILLES, 37332 Age at Arrest: 29 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA --- BELL, CARVING LEBRON 2000 GARFIELD STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37402 Age at Arrest: ... (click for more)

Red Bank Commission Pays Tribute To Terry Pope

Red Bank Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday night to honor Red Bank Vice Mayor Terry Pope, who died unexpectedly June 22. He served the city for numerous years in many capacities -as a commissioner for five years and one of those as vice mayor. He has also been a member of the Red Bank Planning Commission and was a member and president of the city’s pool advisory committee ... (click for more)

Opinion

Disappointed In The Collegedale Commission

Back a long time ago, when I was in high school at McCallie, us students were afforded a lot of freedoms. But those freedoms came with the expectation that you knew, above all else, to be honest and truthful. From the outset, this was always assumed to be the case. For example, if you missed a test, you could take it at home and return it the following day, along with a signed statement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why I Picked Home Depot

I know precious little about hot water heaters except for Rule No. 1 – when one that’s older than your youngest child starts leaving a pool of water on the kitchen floor, “take low and go.” Replace the thing and forget about it. I don’t want to discuss it, don’t want be a prudent buyer by taking half the day to study it, and I am not about to drive all over town to find the best ... (click for more)

Sports

CFC's Season Ends With 2-0 Loss To Miami; However Founder's Cup Starts In August

The Chattanooga Football Club’s rose-colored season was ended Tuesday night in the oppressive Florida heat against Miami FC, with their championship aspirations wilted by the end of the 2-0 shutout. While Miami dominated possession in the first half, Chattanooga briefly took the lead in the 40th minute. After Caleb Cole regained possession, the talented midfielder made a quick ... (click for more)

Red Wolves' Amponsah Named To USL One Team Of The Week

Chattanooga Red Wolves SC defender Nicholas Amponsah has been named to the USL League One Team of the Week for Week 16 of the league’s inaugural 2019 season. Amponsah scored the game-tying goal for the Red Wolves against Madison in addition to completing 45 of 54 passes, recording five tackles and winning 10 of 13 duels Saturday night. Amponsah leveled the match in the ... (click for more)