Case involving fire at Alton Marina continued to August

By Ann Maher | Aug 1, 2014

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge on July 23 continued a case management conference to Aug. 20 in a 2011 property damage suit the City of Alton filed against boat owners Layne and Leslee Gibson.

The city claims the Gibsons failed to properly maintain their boat to prevent corrosion from forming on its wiring, and that the bad wiring started a fire at the Alton Marina in January 2009.

A year after being sued, the Gibsons filed a third party complaint against Parrot Pointe Marine, which operates the marina for the city. The Gibsons claim the fire damage is Parrot Pointe's fault because it failed to adequately monitor a shore power pedestal and connections to the boats housed at the marina slips.

The Gibsons are represented by Daniel Bradley of DeFranco and Bradley in Fairview Heights.

Parrot Pointe, represented by Theodore Williams of Williams Venker & Sanders in St. Louis, responded to the Gibsons' claims saying, "Specifically, Third Party Plaintiffs failed to properly maintain their boat, have proper electrical wiring on their boat, properly store electrical items on their boat, properly follow the rules and regulations as set forth by Parrot Pointe Marine, Inc., and/or did not exercise due care for their property or the safety of the marina and/or others."

Yet, the Gibsons seek summary judgment, saying that, "Every expert investigator that examined the fire scene concluded that the fire began at the connection point between the shore power cord and the boat's onboard power receptacle...None of the experts, however, concluded that defendants negligently caused a faulty connection or otherwise caused the fire."

The City of Alton, represented by James McTighe of Orland Park, responded to the Gibsons' motion for summary judgment, saying the shore power cord actually belonged to the Gibsons.

"Every witness that has examined the fire scene has concluded that the fire began due to a poor connection on the Gibson Boat at the boat connection point where the Gibson's shore power cord plugs into their boat," McTighe wrote.

"Although employees of third party defendant walk the marina and perform daily inspections, they have no authority to actually go aboard the boats and only do a visual inspection from the outside the actual boat."

The city is seeking in excess of $150,000 in damages and other relief.

Madison County case number 11-L-351.

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