Tarangau Game Fishing Charters Pty Ltd vs Bertram Yachts and Eagle Yachts Pty Ltd, Supreme Court of Queensland
Alex Moriarty won this landmark case relating to the manufacture and sale of a dangerously defective game fishing vessel to Tarangau Game Fishing Charters Pty Ltd by leading US yacht manufacturer, Bertram Yachts, and its Australian sales agent Eagle Yachts Pty Ltd.
The win was significant for several important reasons:
It was the first time Bertram Yachts was held liable for its manufacturing flaws anywhere in the world. This was despite mounting circumstantial evidence and anecdotal cases of serious problems with the company’s manufacturing facility in Florida – including the sporadic sinking of other Bertram vessels. As an important test case, it was vigorously defended. Almost every conceivable legal argument was presented by Bertram’s lawyers, a leading international law firm.
The conduct of Bertram and its lawyers was such that Tarangau succeeded in obtaining an indemnity costs award (a form of punitive orders) against Bertram – orders they did not appeal.
The hidden nature of the alleged defects in the Bertram vessel – which could have led to the sudden sinking of the ship in deep sea conditions – meant highly technical and extensive expert evidence had to be presented to Court, in an intelligible and compelling way that would meet evidentiary requirements. This included appearances from leading boat designers, builders and materials engineers.
As Bertram Yachts were operating in a foreign jurisdiction (the USA), the case posed complex jurisdictional, local and international law questions which our legal team were able to successfully navigate to sheet home liability to Bertram.