Smooth sailing for boat owners after Southport Marina lawsuit settled

The marina claimed had the boats not been in the water at the time of the storm, the damages would not have occurred.
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 11:58 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After facing demands for tens of thousands of dollars, more than 100 boat owners in Southport have settled a lawsuit with the Southport Marina -- coming as a relief those who rented slips at the docks.

In 2020, Hurricane Isaias caused major damage to the Southport Marina, but the marina had let the insurance on the docks, with the exception of the fuel dock, lapse. The lapsed insurance prompted the marina to take the unusual step of demanding the boat owners pay for the damages.

The marina claimed had the boats not been in the water at the time of the storm, the damages would not have occurred.

Ultimately, the marina and boaters took their arguments to court where the prolonged legal battle ensued between the parties involved, as well as the insurance companies.

“I believe the average demand for damage to the piers was about $20,000 per boat and the average demand for salvage was about $6,000 per boat, times I think 185 boats is how many they’ve been sent to,” said Chris Abel, a lawyer who represented around 100 boat owners who fought back against the marina’s demands.

That’s a lot of money the marina wanted to be paid, but after two years the parties reached an agreement -- and it’s a relief to the owners of the boats who not only faced damages to their property, but then had to worry about paying out thousands more for the docks they didn’t own.

“Some of the insurance companies paid a nominal amount on the salvage claims. It varied by boat and insurance company at the low end. There are some of the salvage claims for which the Marina got no money at all, at the high end, a couple of $100 is the most that the Marina got for any boat,” Abel said.