Judge dismisses suit by family saved at sea

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against a satellite phone company by a California couple rescued with their sick 1-year-old from a disabled sailboat that was attempting to circle the world.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes ruled that a provision in the contract between Eric Kaufman and Whenever Communications requires any lawsuit to be filed in Florida, where the company's headquarters are located, U-T San Diego reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/1Cj9BE6 ).

The Kaufmans sued the phone company in July claiming that they would not have lost their boat had they not lost satellite service, which impeded their ability to get medical advice over the phone when one of their two daughters fell ill.

Instead, they were forced to sound an alarm to the Coast Guard, which set off a huge rescue effort hundreds of miles off the Mexican coast involving skydiving National Guardsmen, three U.S. agencies, a plane, a frigate and scores of personnel.

A Navy ship took them to shore, while their boat was left at sea and sank.

After the ruling, family attorney Dan Gilleon said the Kaufmans will file their lawsuit in Florida.

Matthew Herron, a lawyer for Whenever Communications, said the company had been in the process of switching SIM card providers for months, and it was a different company that shut off the family's service.

The Kaufmans' decision to sail around the world with their children, ages 1 and 3, drew accusations of reckless foolishness from some observers and praise from others for their courageous spirit.


Information from: U-T San Diego, http://www.utsandiego.com

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