A New Jersey woman will receive $3.7 million in a settlement for traumatic brain injuries she suffered when she fell off a ladder from a boat suspended in a marina Travelift. The woman, Jennifer Brashears, 48, fell 10 feet from the top step of a ladder and hit her head on the paved parking lot at the Edgewater Marina in Edgewater, New Jersey. Surgeons had to remove a third of her skull to prevent fatal swelling, but she was left with a disabling brain injury and has not been able to work since the accident on July 22, 2014.
On that day, Dean Borghi, from Harrington Park, New Jersey, hired Brashears to clean his 54-foot motoryacht, All About the Monet, at its slip in the marina, which is owned by the borough of Edgewater. The marina is on the Hudson, south of the George Washington Bridge and roughly opposite 145th Street in Manhattan. With Brashears on board, Borghi drove the boat over to the marina’s service bay where a Travelift hoisted it out of the water for repairs.
At that point, Borghi climbed down a ladder next to the boat, although he momentarily lost his footing. Brashears followed, but fell immediately after placing one foot on the ladder’s top step. She fell headfirst, landed on her head, and was taken to the Hackensack University Medical Center. In the years since, she has undergone five surgeries, and her mother has set up a special-needs trust to make sure she gets help for her cognitive and physical disabilities.
Brashears subsequently sued the marina, the borough, and Borghi. She claimed the marina was negligent, and that the Travelift operator was not properly trained. Warnings were posted on the Travelift saying that no one could be on a boat when it was lifted out of the water; that also was the marina’s policy.
The recent settlement was approved by Superior Court Judge Robert Polifroni. The borough will pay Brashears $3 million, with Borghi paying $700,000. He has already paid her $600,000; the rest is due on Aug. 1. Read more: