In our persistently decentralized industry it’s common for most independent boat builders, repairers, surveyors, yards, and related consultants to ignore the prospect of a brush with the law. Like it or loathe it, the institutionalized blame game of legal liability in all areas of life and commerce has become an industry in its own right. For unprepared players who get caught up in it, the outcomes can be crippling. Or, for experts with sound reputations, relevant technical knowledge, and experience, a call to court can be a lucrative business opportunity. With those potential extremes in mind, the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) will include a full-day Marine Law Symposium on January 10 in Charleston, South Carolina, in its 2017 Standards Week.
The legal conference is geared to serve expert witnesses such as surveyors and materials and systems consultants, as well as insurance underwriters contracting with experts to inform critical decisions. Also served will be the compliance staff of boat or component manufacturers who would be responsible for defending their company’s compliance with a range of standards. The track for builders and manufacturers includes a presentation by David Marlow, director of product integrity at boatbuilding giant Brunswick Corp., exploring how decisions made at time of manufacture sound when you’re testifying in court. Marcia Kull of Volvo Penta will follow with a look at the often-fraught relationship between marketing and compliance during product design, and the potential legal consequences of compromises. Attorney Christina Paul will present case studies of product manufacturers who successfully defended themselves based on engineering knowledge and adherence to proper manufacturing practices and standards.
The track for expert witnesses focuses on honestly and effectively marketing yourself as an expert, preparation for deposition or trial, and case studies of expert-witness work done right and gone wrong. A track on expert witnesses will focus on matching experts to a claim or case, what to pay, how to interpret technical language in professional reports, how to apply the information gathered, and how the opposition can discredit your expert witness.
It’s all material that most of us in the boatbuilding trade don’t like to think about but can’t afford not to. For registration, visit www.abycinc.org or call ABYC at 410–990–4460.