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Watersports Safety Requires USCG Approved Vests

Summertime is here.  Boating is a popular pastime.  Many enjoy waterskiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, jetskiing and other water related activities.  To safely enjoy these activities – it is imperative to wear an approved United States Coast Guard Vest.  Choosing a vest that is not USCG approved might be fatal.

On September 23, 2007, Adam Puckett was water skiing on a wakeboard behind a ski boat on the Amite River near Port Vincent in Ascension Parish.  He was wearing a JetPilot A-10 Attack “Comp” wakeboard vest manufactured by Advance Sports, Inc.  The vest was not U.S. Coast Guard approved and contained a warning the “buoyancy factor and its distribution in the jacket is not sufficient to float a conscious or unconscious person in a ‘face out of water position’.”  It did not warn of the fact that the vest would not float the user at all.

At approximately 3:50 p.m Adam crossed the wake of the boat and fell into the water.  The tow boat immediately turned to recover him, but Adam was not on the surface.  Friends unsuccessfully dove into the water in an attempt to locate Adam.  Hours later deputies recovered Adam’s body (with the vest properly worn) resting on the bottom of the Amite River.

After litigation and a trial, the trial court ruled that the Jet Pilot A10 Attack Vest was unreasonably dangerous in design and as a result of an inadequate warning.

There is no dispute that Adam would be alive today if the defendant’s A-10 wakeboarding vest would have had enough floatation to simply keep him on the surface.  The manufacturer of the product, Advance Sports, Inc., added buoyancy to the vest after Adam’s death when they learned that the vest had less than 6 lbs of floatation.  A USCG approved vest requires 15 lbs of buoyancy.  One of Jet Pilot’s sponsored professional wakeboarders, Shawn Murray,  wears a USCG approved vest while wakeboarding.

For you and your friend’s sake – wear an approved U.S. Coast Guard vest when enjoying watersports this summer.  It might be a life or death choice.

The lawyers at Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson were honored to represent Adam and his wife in the products liability litigation against Advance Sports, Inc.   As a result of the litigation, Advance Sports increased the buoyancy to the A10, however they did not recall the previously manufactured vests like the one worn by Adam at the time of his death.

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Lake Charles, Louisiana


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