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Ottawa Man who Lost His Leg in a Boating Accident Sues Boat Driver, Owner and ‘Spotter’

Posted in: Blog, Serious Personal Injury // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
December 10, 2020

A multi-million dollar lawsuit has recently been filed by a 20-year old Ottawa man who lost his leg in a 2018 boating accident.

Aidan McLaughlin (“McLaughlin”), the boat driver, Julia Fournier (“Fournier”), the mother of McLaughlin who owned the boat, and Otis Fatona-Pinet (“Fatona-Pinet”), a friend who was acting as a “spotter” on the boat, have been named as defendants to the lawsuit.

THE ACCIDENT

On August 29, 2018, Emilio Dutra Lidington (“Dutra Lidington”) was in a tube being towed by his friend’s boat on Lac Pemichangan, two hours north of Ottawa, when he was thrown off the tube.  McLaughlin, who was driving the boat, circled around at high speed and struck Dutra Lidington with the boat despite the fact that he was waving his arms in the air.  The boat propeller sliced through Dutra Lidington’s right leg and right hand.

Dutra Lidington described the accident to a reporter:

I thought he was going to slow down, but suddenly there was like three seconds to react.  I realized, ‘This is not happening,’ so I dove down as deep as I could. …

I lay down on the floor of the boat and I was trying to convince myself it was just a wrist injury, but everyone was panicking.  I knew I had to stay calm.  I kept telling myself, ‘It’s just a wrist injury’ because I didn’t want to look at my leg.  …

I was pretty angry at that guy for running me over.  They were saying ‘Bro, you’re going to make it!’  And I was, ‘Bro, shut up.  I know I’m going to make.  I’m not scared of making it.  I didn’t even know how bad it was.

Dutra Lidington was taken by ambulance to Hull Hospital, approximately an hour away from where the accident occurred.   There he received 43 units of blood.  He was then transferred to Ottawa Hospital’s trauma unit where he received an additional 20 units of blood. 

The young man spent two and a half weeks in intensive care.  Complications arose as his wounds were infected due to the lake water.  Despite multiple debridements (cutting away of the dead tissue), the infections continued to spread.  Eventually the decision was made to amputate the leg.  Dutra Lidington’s leg was originally taken off above the right knee, then halfway up the thigh and then his leg was amputated right up to the hip.  He has already had to undergo 16 surgeries related to his injuries.

After five months in hospital, Dutra Lidington began his rehabilitation at Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre.  His artificial leg costs approximately $100,000 and he will likely need a dozen of them during his lifetime. 

THE ALLEGATIONS

According to the statement of claim, Dutra Lidington is alleging that McLaughlin operated the boat “recklessly” and with “negligence” and without a valid boating licence.  It is also alleged that McLaughlin failed to decelerate the boat after Dutra Lidington fell off, he failed to keep the boat under proper or any control, and he failed to keep a proper or any lookout. 

The lawsuit also contains allegations that the defendant Fatona-Pinet did not keep a proper lookout at the time of the accident.

It is further alleged that both McLaughlin and Fatona-Pinet were impaired by alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the accident.

According to the lawsuit , the impact of the boat’s propeller left Dutra Lidington with “serious, permanent, catastrophic and disfiguring injuries”.  His injuries included a fractured right femur; the loss of three fingers on his right hand; multiple deep lacerations in his leg, knee and thigh; and vascular and nerve damage.

Dutra Lidington is claiming $450,000 from each of the named defendants for general damages and pain and suffering, and unspecified amounts for loss of income and loss of economic opportunities, health care expenses and housing costs. 

He is also claiming $100,000 for loss of guidance, care and companionship on behalf of his mother, sister, father and step-father, as well as $50,000 for his two grandparents. 

The lawsuit also includes a claim for $100,000 in punitive damages against Fournier.  It is alleged that the evidence of alcohol on the boat was removed by or on behalf of Fournier.  Fournier has denied all allegations of the involvement of alcohol in this tragic accident. 

The boating accident was investigated by the Surete du Quebec and no criminal charges were laid as a result.

None of the allegations contained in the lawsuit have been proven in court.

BOATING AND PERSONAL INJURIES

The majority of injuries resulting from boat accidents are preventable when safe boating is practiced.  However, there are occasions when a boat operator’s carelessness is responsible for the boat accident and the subsequent death or injury to innocent individuals. 

Disastrous boating accidents often occur due to poor planning or lack of caution regarding potential rough weather conditions. 

If you or a loved one have experienced a serious injury or loss as the result of a boater’s negligence and you would like information about your legal options, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced and award winning personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers.  Please contact our office for a free case evaluation online or by calling 403-571-0555.  We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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