The process of jury selection for wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of deceased offshore racer Joey Gratton by plaintiff Priscilla Gratton, the veteran racer’s widow, against defendants Super Boat International Productions, John Carbonell and two other defendants is scheduled to begin today in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court In And For Broward County, Fla., in Fort Lauderdale. According to Michael Allweiss, the attorney representing the Gratton family, approximately 100 potential jurors have been gathered for the opening round of selection.
Joey Gratton died while racing at the 2011 SBI Key West Offshore World Championships. Photo by Jamie Russell
The trial, which begins Jan. 12, is expected to last three weeks.
“We start with a larger panel and cull it down to prospective jurors who can sit for a three-week trial,” Allweiss said. “We continue with the process until we cull it down to six jurors and two alternates. Then the trial begins.”
Gratton died more than three years ago after an accident during the 2011 Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla. The lawsuit—the amount of which has not been released—against SBI alleges gross negligence on the part of the organization in its safety and rescue operations during the Gratton incident and the entire 2011 SBI event.
“We are prepared for this trial,” Allweiss said. “We have never felt more strongly about the issues of the case. The racers were led to believe that there were professionals out there to save them if something happened. In truth, they had two civilians with no professional backgrounds or training charged with saving Joey Gratton’s life. Our expert witness has stated, ‘It was a simple accident. Nobody was injured and the boat wasn’t damaged. It should have been a very simple rescue.’
“It’s really up to the jury to decide if SBI violated the law,” he added. “I certainly believe they did.”
A phone call this morning to the office of William Milliken, the attorney for SBI, in Coral Gables, Fla., for comment on the case had not been returned when this story went live.
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