Two Silver Spring residents filed a $12 million suit yesterday against an Edgewater boat dealer, two weeks after he gave them a demonstration ride in the South River that ended with an accident injuring both of them.
William R. Cross Jr. and Erica E. Marley, of the 12000 block of Epping Court in Silver Spring, allege in the suit that Louis Alcamo, owner and manager of Marine Sports Inc., in the 100 block of Admiral Cochran Drive, was negligent in his operation of a boat they were considering buying March 6.
According to the suit, filed in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, the plaintiffs were invited for a test ride at the Washington D.C. Boat Show in early March. When they showed up at the Edgewater dealership, they expressed an interest in a 26-foot cigarette boat.
When they got into the boat, the suit said, Mr. Alcamo asked Mr. Cross to "hand him his helmet."
But according to the suit, "no helmets were provided for the plaintiffs, nor were they given any life preservers."
The suit alleges that after leaving the dock slowly, the boat accelerated to "a tremendous rate of speed," at one point "hitting 80 knots."
"Because of the tremendous acceleration and noise created by the boat, the plaintiffs were unable to move or even be heard while the boat hurtled down the river. It took all their energy, strength and physical stamina merely to hold on," the suit alleges.
Mr. Alcamo slowed the boat to about 50 knots as he attempted to make a "tight left turn" at the mouth of the river as the tide was coming in, according to the suit.
"As the boat began to turn, it came out of the water, throwing the plaintiffs out of the boat and into the freezing waters of the South River," the suit alleges. The boat landed upside down, barely missing the couple, the suit says.
Kevin J. McCarthy, the plaintiffs' Landover attorney, said Mr. Cross suffered nerve damage that has left him with no feeling in his right arm and that he walks with a limp because of injuries to his right knee.
Ms. Marley suffered a collapsed lung, four broken ribs and her left arm was broken in two places, he said.
Mr. McCarthy said that both plaintiffs, whom he described as in their early 20s, also suffered hypothermia from the chilly waters. Neither has been able to work since the accident, he said.
Mr. Cross installs fire sprinklers and Ms. Marley is a clerical worker, Mr. McCarthy said.
Mr. Alcamo was charged by Natural Resources Police last week with operating a motorized vessel negligently, which carries a possible $500 fine, and with operating a boat in a manner that may endanger the life and property of others, which carries a possible $200 fine and 30 days in prison.