MIRANDA STARING, Individually, as the Sole Heir, Legal Beneficiary and Legal Representative of the Estate of Femmetje Staring, and on behalf of the ESTATE of FEMMETJE STARING, Plaintiffs,
AMERICAN SHIPYARD CO., LLC D/B/A NEWPORT SHIPYARD, LLC; ASC REALTY CO., LLC; U.S. SECURITY ASSOCIATES, INC. D/B/A D.B. KELLY ASSOCIATES; JOSHUA CARLSON; ABC CORPORATIONS and JOHN DOE Defendants.
County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Mark B. Decof, Esq. Donna M. DiDonato, Esq. Keith
B. Kyle, Esq.
Defendant: Robert E. Collins, Esq. Tracy M. Waugh, Esq.
Anthony J. Gianfrancesco, Esq. Kayla S. O'Connor, Esq.
before the Court is Defendants American Shipyard Co., LLC,
d/b/a Newport Shipyard, LLC (Newport Shipyard) and ASC Realty
Co., LLC's (ASC) (collectively, Defendants) Motion for
Leave to File a Third Party Complaint Against the Estate of
Jennifer Way. The Motion was filed on February 25, 2016, and
the Court heard arguments from the parties on May 2, 2016. At
the close of the hearing, the Court indicated that it would
grant the Defendants' Motion and that it would issue a
written decision. Decision is herein rendered in favor of the
Defendants to file a third-party complaint. Jurisdiction in
this Court is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 8-2-14 and Super.
R. Civ. P. 14 (Rule 14).
underlying factual background of this case originates out of
a car accident that occurred in the early morning hours of
October 5, 2012. Earlier that evening, Jennifer Way (Way),
Femmetje Staring (Staring), and Sara Louise Owen (Owen)
attended a birthday party at the Fastnet Pub in Newport,
Rhode Island. At some point, the trio decided to leave the
party and go to the S/V HYPERION. Owen was a crewmember
aboard that vessel, and the S/V HYPERION was then docked at
the Newport Shipyard.
they departed, Way was driving the vehicle with Staring and
Owen riding along as her passengers. After entering Newport
Shipyard, Way missed a right-hand turn that would have taken
her to the S/V HYPERION. She then continued down a path that
caused her to travel off of the pier at the travel lift and
into the harbor. As a result of the crash, all three of the
vehicle's occupants perished.
autopsy was conducted on Way, and it revealed that she was
legally intoxicated at the time of the accident. The autopsy
report concluded that there was "a large amount of
alcohol in the femoral blood and vitreous humor, and this
acute intoxication may have played a role in the
circumstances of the motor vehicle mishap and subsequent
drowning event." On December 14, 2015, the Estate of
Jennifer Way was established. Counsel for the Defendants
petitioned to have the Estate of Jennifer Way opened.
preceding factual background gave rise to several lawsuits.
On July 23, 2013, Gregory Way, Diane Way (the Ways), and
Shannon T. Breault filed a lawsuit in this
Court-NC-2013-0305. Roughly a year later, the instant lawsuit
was filed on August 21, 2014 by Miranda Staring and the
Estate of Femmetje Staring (collectively, Plaintiffs). Those
two suits were consolidated for discovery purposes by Order
of this Court on April 16, 2015. Additionally, on September
30, 2015, Owen's parents, Sarah Margaret Owen and John
Norton Owen, as executors of Owen's Estate and in their
individual capacity, filed a civil action against Newport
Shipyard and ASC in the United States District Court for the
District of Rhode Island.
filed the present Motion on February 25, 2016, seeking leave
to file a third-party complaint against the Estate of
Jennifer Way, seeking contribution, indemnity, and forwarding
various theories of negligence. Thereafter, on March 8 2016,
Plaintiffs filed an objection. The Court held a hearing on
the Motion on May 2, 2016. Essentially, the objection pressed
by counsel for the Ways in the sister-action was that there
was no money in the Estate of Jennifer Way for Defendants to
collect on. Therefore, he argued that it would be a nullity
or futile for the Court to grant the Defendants' Motion.
Counsel for the Ways also argued that the only reason
Defendants sought to add Way's estate was to open the
door to argue comparative negligence to the jury at trial.
After hearing arguments from all the parties, the Court
indicated that it would issue a written decision on the