Appeals court rules against man who lost wife to shark
SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court's ruling that said a California man whose wife disappeared during a honeymoon kayaking trip off Maui six years ago cannot sue the U.S. government.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the U.S. District Court's ruling in the case of Manouchehr Monazzami Taghadomi of Sunnyvale, whose wife, Nahid Davoodabadi, 29, was lost at sea during a kayaking trip off Lahaina on March 18, 1999.
Taghadomi said his wife was attacked by a shark after nightfall and died. Taghadomi and the kayak later washed up on Kahoolawe where he was stranded until his rescue three days later. His wife's body was never found.
Taghadomi and his wife's parents sued the kayak rental company on Maui, Extreme Sports Hawaii, but a federal jury in May 2003 found the company wasn't negligent.
The family also named the federal government in the lawsuit, claiming the Coast Guard was negligent in carrying out its rescue and in failing to contact local authorities who may have been able to save the couple.
U.S. District Judge Alan Kay granted the federal government a summary judgment in the case, which the San Francisco-based appeal court upheld.
The appeals court noted that the family attempted to sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act because they were ineligible under the only two other relevant maritime statutes, the Public Vessels Act and the Suits in Admiralty Act.
However, the appeals court said they were ineligible to bring the claim under the federal tort law because technically the claim fell under one of the maritime laws, and under that law they had exceeded the statute of limitations for filing a claim.
Peter A. Schey, Taghadomi's Los Angeles-based attorney, said Tuesday he had not seen the appeals court opinion.
The civil department of the U.S. Attorney's office in Honolulu was unavailable for comment.