The Richmond Register

March 3, 2013

The case of the romantic mariner

you be the judge

By Jack Strauss
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — While out husband hunting, Ina bagged herself a wolf instead of a spouse. She met him at a party and when he invited her aboard his yacht, she readily accepted the offer. Instead of her quarry being ideal, however, he turned out to be an ordeal.

In short order, but a gentleman at all times, Ina’s almost ancient mariner quickly turned romantic. Equally as quick, Ina dodged the romantic attack and proceeded to leave the yacht. As she attempted to do so, however, the yacht moved away from the dock the two feet of its mooring line. The result? Ina did an unladylike split with one foot on the dock and one foot on the yacht and fell backwards into the drink.

Soaking wet, Ina sued her would be Casanova for her dunking.

“There was no gangplank, no railing and the lighting was bad”, she complained in court. “Since I was gallantly ushered aboard the yacht, I should have been gallantly ushered off the yacht.”

“Ina is a big girl”, was the yachtsman’s response. “If she was old enough to come aboard, she certainly was old enough to go ashore. I wasn’t her nursemaid.”

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you require Ina’s ungallant host to pay for her dunking?

THIS IS HOW THE JUDGE RULED: Yes! The judge ruled that since Ina was a guest aboard the boat, the owner had a duty to exercise ordinary care to protect her from injury by making sure she had a reasonably safe means of disembarking.

(Based upon a 1966 Florida District Court of Appeals Decision)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.