The lawsuit concerns docks near the Dive Bar Restaurant at Jupiter Yacht Club.
JUPITER — After spending thousands of dollars to settle personal injury lawsuits at the Jupiter Yacht Club docks, the town says enough is enough.
On June 4, the town sued the Jupiter Yacht Club Marina Condominium Association and the Jupiter Yacht Club Master Property Owners’ Association, claiming the two groups haven’t done their part to maintain pedestrian safety near 10 public boat slips in the complex.
“They both have a responsibility to provide and maintain the public benefits that were promised to the town and the public,” Town Attorney Tom Baird said Thursday.
He was referencing deals reached between officials and developers Colleoni Di America Corporation and Jupiter Yacht Club Holdings in the 1990s and early 2000s. The agreements required the club’s marina to include 10 public boat slips.
The two associations are the developers’ successors, according to the town. So that means they’re on the hook for maintaining the public docks and making sure people are safe there, officials argue.
But that hasn’t happened, Baird said.
Baird places much of the blame on the marina association, which the town says owns the area around the public slips and periodically threatens to close them. The second group controls other parts of the Jupiter Yacht Club development, which extends south to the nearby Best Western, Baird said.
“They have, as far as the town can tell, have not done any maintenance on those docks in the almost 20 years they’ve existed,” Baird said.
Greg Kino, the marina association’s lawyer, said town staff went by the docks this year and didn’t openly question their safety.
“Here’s the reality of that,” Kino said. “The town installed some lighting. They thought it would help the situation. It broke early on. They never fixed it.”
Meanwhile, the town said in its lawsuit that it has defended five claims and four lawsuits tied to accidents at the docks, spending “thousands” of dollars to settle cases.
Baird said Thursday he was unsure of the exact total. Asked why the town settled cases if it believes maintenance responsibility lies with the yacht club groups, Baird said it was an insurance matter.
“I don’t think it’s as simple as all that. The town’s insurance carrier is involved in that,” he said. “If the town gets sued, the insurance carrier gets to decide how much they want to pay for a settlement. That’s occurred in these cases.”
In the most recent personal injury case, initially filed in 2018 against only the marina association, town insurance provider Nautilus determined it had no obligation to handle the organization’s defense, according to Baird.
The marina association’s insurance provider, AGCS Marine Insurance Company, sued Jupiter last November, saying that it failed to provide insurance coverage for the organization under a 2002 agreement.
That led to the town’s filing last month, which says Jupiter’s insurance policy complies with the 2002 pact and covers the marina association.
Court filings show the proceedings are headed toward mediation. Town Council members will discuss the matter with Baird when they meet Tuesday.
Both Baird and Kino say they’re hopeful a resolution is on the way. Richard Cullifer, president of the master property owners association, could not be reached Thursday.
Source: PALM BEACH POST