Jury denies award to shark attack victim
St.SCUT: Jury denies award to shark attack victim
MIAMI -- A surfer bitten by a shark at a public beach has lost a suit against the county in which he charged that -- as in the movie Jaws -- authorities failed to warn bathers because of an upcoming holiday weekend.
A jury took only 77 minutes Wednesday to reject a $63,000 claim by Jonathan Popper against Dade County over injuries he received in the May 21, 1983 attack.
Popper, 22 when he was bitten, had argued that sharks were sighted off Haulover Beach in the days previous to his attack, but no warning was issued, even though lifeguards commonly post signs advising of undertows and poisonous jellyfish.
``Why would Dade County make the decision to expose people to sharks rather than expose sharks to people?'' Popper's attorney Jay Rothlein said in his summary. ``There can be only one reason -- there was a holiday weekend coming up and sharks are bad for business.''
But Assistant County attorney Ron Bernstein called those arguments absurd, noting that Popper had been surfing in the area for 10 years prior to the attack.
``As this trial went on, it became apparent these men were trying to orchestrate the sequel to Jaws, Bernstein said In the Peter Benchley novel Jaws and the movie made from it, the mayor of a fictional beach town fails to heed warnings about shark dangers for fear it will hurt local businesses awaiting a holiday weekend crowd.
Bernstein also noted that Popper, who suffered a leg injury when a shark bit his leg and let go, was back surfing in the same spot six months later.
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