Judge: Sandy boat lawsuit 'a disgrace'
A federal judge Tuesday blasted both the attorney for a boat owner who was trying to reclaim his vessel after it had been tossed into the swimming pool of a Lindenhurst homeowner by superstorm Sandy, and the attorney for the homeowner who objected to the retrieval.
U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler in Central Islip said that at a time when people were trying to help others severely devastated by the storm, he was highly troubled that the case had been brought to court and not settled between the parties.
"This is the most disgraceful thing I've ever seen. . . . It's a disgrace," Wexler lambasted Charles Murphy, the attorney for Elmont boat owner Andres Medina, and Christopher Devanny, the attorney for Lindenhurst homeowner Anthony Magadino. The case is one of the first federal civil actions brought as a result of Sandy.
Medina had filed suit saying the boat had been in dry dock at the Anchorage Yacht Club on Neguntatogue Creek in Lindenhurst when the storm lifted it up and carried it into Magadino's swimming pool across the creek. Medina said the 38-foot Silverton 38 Sports Bridge was worth $300,000.
Magadino said he would not allow the boat to be recovered until he got paid for the estimated $75,000 in damages the boat caused to his in-ground pool and deck area.
Charles Murphy, the attorney for Medina and his insurance company, Standard Fire Insurance, told the judge they would pay for any damage caused by moving the boat from the Magadino property, but he would have to file a claim for hurricane damages for the original mishap.
Magadino said that if anybody set foot on his property, he would have them arrested, Murphy told Judge Wexler.
Christopher Devanny, the attorney for Magadino, said that his client and his family had made heroic efforts to secure Medina's boat so it did not drift out to sea, and that by maritime law they were entitled to claim it as salvage.
Despite his misgivings about the case being brought to his court, Wexler ruled that Medina had a right to enter Magadino's property to reclaim the boat, but only after he posted a $50,000 bond for potential damages when the boat is towed away.
But Wexler also ruled that he would oversee any case that Magadino brought for damages the boat caused when it landed in the swimming pool.
Both attorneys Murphy and Devanny declined to comment afterward.