U.S. Supreme Court to Hear TLPJ
Boat Propeller Guard Case
Fight Against Federal Preemption
of Injury Victims' Rights Continues
The statue "Contemplation of Justice" (James
Earl Fraser, sculptor) and the west façade of the
Supreme Court Building. Photo by Jonathan Hutson
On the morning of Tuesday, October
15, 2002, the U.S.
Supreme Court will hear oral argument in TLPJ's boat propeller
safety case, Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine. TLPJ Staff Attorney
Leslie R. Brueckner will argue the federal preemption case, in which
the Court will decide whether an injury victim can sue a boat engine
manufacturer for failing to install a propeller guard on the engine
of a recreational motor boat.
The Sprietsma case arose out
of the tragic death of Jeanne Sprietsma, who was killed by the
propeller of an outboard engine when she fell from a recreational
motor boat. Her husband, Rex Sprietsma, sued Mercury Marine for his
wife’s wrongful death.
The Illinois Supreme Court held that
such claims are preempted by the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 and
by the U.S. Coast Guard's (USCG's) decision not to take any
regulatory action with respect to propeller guards. The U.S. Supreme
Court then granted TLPJ's petition for review.
TLPJ is not alone in this battle. Amicus
briefs in support of TLPJ's
position have been filed by 17
States and by the Solicitor
General of the United States on behalf of the USCG and the U.S.
In addition to Brueckner, TLPJ's
legal team in Sprietsma includes TLPJ Executive Director
Arthur H. Bryant; TLPJ Staff Attorney Michael J. Quirk; Joseph A.
Power, Jr.; Todd A. Smith and Devon C. Bruce of Chicago's Power,
Rogers & Smith; and John B. Kralovec of Chicago's Kralovec,
Jambois & Schwartz. TLPJ's briefs and the key amicus briefs
in the case are available on TLPJ's web site at www.tlpj.org.
To download a Visitors' Guide to Oral
Argument at the U.S. Supreme Court (PDF), click