Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Speedboat Accident

More than 70 defendants have been named in a speedboat accident lawsuit brought by the father of a Connecticut man who died in a crash in 2008. 

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by John Wanat in Danbury Superior Court. Wanat’s son, Jason Wanat, died in a boating accident on July 19, 2008. His son and two other men, Richard Layton and Kevin Sullivan, were in a speed boat that collided with a fishing boat taking part in an overnight bass fishing tournament on Candlewood Lake. Layton and Jason Wanat were killed, and Sullivan was critically injured.

The speedboat accident has spawned a number of lawsuits, but the one filed by Wanat names 74 defendants, including those on the fishing boat, more than 20 members of the Watershed Bass Masters Association, the club that sponsored the tournament, the five communities that make up the Candlewood Lake Authority, their delegates to the authority and staff members.

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An investigation by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection determined that Layton, who was driving the speedboat, was intoxicated, speeding, and violated navigation rules, causing the accident, even though the fishing boat struck the speedboat. According to a report by NewsTimes.com, Wanat’s lawsuit alleges that the lake is virtually lawless and boating is poorly regulated and controlled, an assessment with which the Lake Authority disagrees.

The lawsuit also alleges that William D’Addio, who was driving the fishing boat, did not have the proper licenses to drive the boat on the lake. The family also claims that D’Addio was speeding, failed to use or did not have a working horn and did not have the proper lighting on the boat.

An earlier lawsuit brought by the occupants of both boats against Layton’s estate was settled out of court with proceeds from his boat insurance policy. The occupants and their estates also filed a dram shop lawsuit against Brookfield’s Down the Hatch, the bar where Layton, Wanat and Sullivan were drinking before the accident. That lawsuit is still pending.

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