United States District Court, S.D. Florida
OPINION AND ORDER
KENNETH A. MARRA United States District Judge
cause is before the Court upon Defendants Town of Palm Beach
and Town of Palm Beach Police Department's Motion for
Summary Judgment [DE 32]. The Court has reviewed all papers
submitted in connection with the motion, the entire file, and
is otherwise duly advised in the premises. The motion is ripe
for the Court's consideration.
Summary Judgment Standard
Court may grant summary judgment “if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The stringent burden of establishing the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact lies with the
moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322-23 (1986).
movant “bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. After
the movant has met its burden under Rule 56(a), the burden of
production shifts and the nonmoving party “must do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts.” Matsushita Electronic
Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S.
574, 586 (1986). “A party asserting that a fact cannot
be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . .
. or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish
the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an
adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support
the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A) and (B).
facts, as culled from the evidence submitted in admissible
form by the Parties in connection with the motion, and
reasonably inferred therefrom in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff for the purpose of this motion, are set forth
below. The Court notes that Plaintiff has not fully complied
with Rule 56.1 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure. To the
extent Plaintiff did not controvert Defendants' facts
with evidence supported in the record, Defendants' facts
are deemed admitted where they have record support.
Blue Water Enterprises, Inc. (“Blue Water”) is a
Delaware Corporation which owns the M/Y Time Out,
the vessel at issue in this case. [DE 33-2]. Thomas Henry
Baker (“Baker”) is the President of Blue Water
and the Master, or Captain, of the vessel. [DE 33-3 at 3,
lines 18-24]. Karol Poulos (“Poulos”) was the
Secretary/Treasurer of Blue Water. [Id. at 4, lines
20-24]. Both Baker and Poulos had authority, as company
officers, to act on behalf of Blue Water. [Id. at 6,
early morning of September 7, 2016, Baker was navigating the
M/Y Time Out from the Bahamas to Palm Beach County,
Florida. [Id. at 8, lines11-23]. The M/Y Time
Out engine failed, and Baker sent out a “may
day” call to the United States Coast Guard. [DE 33-4 at
4, lines 1-3]. Baker then lost control of the vessel, which
ended up on a sand bar. [DE 33-3 at 10, lines 15-19]. This
was around 2:30 a.m. [DE 33-11 at 6, lines 19-24].
first person to arrive on the scene was Rob Remick, a duty
captain for towing company SeaTow Palm Beach. [DE 33-4 at 5,
line 24]. Mr. Remick testified that he heard the May Day call
saying that the operator of the vessel had missed the inlet.
[DE 33-4 at 3-4]. Mr. Remick went out to the inlet in a boat
to look for the vessel. [Id. at 4]. He arrived
between 8-10 minutes after he heard the may day call.
[Id. at 5, lines 21-22].
arriving and assessing the situation, Mr. Remick could not
get his boat closer than 100 yards away. He determined that
it was not safe for him to anchor his boat and swim to the
vessel. [Id. at 6, lines 15-23]. Mr. Remick called
another captain, Will Beck, who headed out to meet him.
[Id. at 6-7].
Boat U.S. arrived on the scene about five minutes after Mr.
Remick arrived. [Id. at 7]. Chris Shaffner is the
owner of Tow Boat U.S. Palm Beach, which assists in the
towing and recovery of vessels that are damaged, disabled or
sunk. Mr. Shaffner compared his company to Triple A for road
service. His company has U.S. Coast Guard credentials with a
towing endorsement. The company has been so licensed for over
20 years. [DE 33-5 at 3].
Shaffner swam to the vessel. [Id. at 6, lines
16-20]. Upon boarding, he ascertained that the vessel was
listing to port, on the beach, and water was in all of the
lower cabins. [Id. at 7]. He assisted Baker and
Poulos onto the shore. [Id. at 11]. At their
request, he went back on board to recover some of their
personal items. He found Mr. Baker's wallet and a cell
phone, and gave them these items. [Id. at 15].
police arrived about10 minutes after Tow Boat U.S. arrived.
[DE 33-4 at 7, lines 17-19]. Mr. Baker and Ms. Poulos were on
the beach when the police arrived. [DE 33-5 at 15, lines
23-25]. After conducting a roadside sobriety test on Mr.
Baker, he was taken into custody by the police for boating
under the influence at 4:26 a.m. [[DE 33-6 at 4].
Shaffner testified that prior to Mr. Baker being taken into
police custody, he tried to arrange with Mr. Baker to begin a
salvage or removal.
A. For us to conduct and begin a salvage or wreck removal, as
the case may be, I need documents signed, I need money, you
know, confirmed, and I couldn't get any of that done with
him in the back of the police car. I had asked him for all
that stuff when we were on the beach, and he asked me how
much it was going to cost, and said that he had a friend ...