PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A civil trial surrounding an insurance claim made by Nathan Carman on his sunken boat is now in the hands of a federal judge.
After testimony wrapped up last month, both sides gave their closing arguments on Wednesday. The judge said it will likely take a couple of weeks for him to render a verdict in the jury-waived trial.
Insurance company BoatUS is suing Carman over an $85,000 claim on his boat, the Chicken Pox, which sank during a Sept. 2016 fishing trip with his mother Linda.
Speaking to reporters outside court Wednesday afternoon, Carman said this isn’t about the money but rather exposing the truth for his mother’s sake.
“It’s an $85,000 claim,” Carman said. “It’s a contingency fee. I’d get a fraction of that if I win. I’ve put lots of time, effort and, frankly, a lot of misery into this.”
“I almost feel like I have a responsibility to my mom to make sure that the truth comes out,” he added.
Carman was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard about a week after the vessel went down but his mother was never found and is presumed dead.
BoatUS denied Carman’s claim, alleging he made “significant changes” to the vessel, altering its seaworthiness. The company says Carman drilled holes in the vessel’s stern and altered its trim taps.
BoatUS’s lawyers sought to prove Carman made the alterations prior to taking the boat out and without notifying the company.
Outside federal court, Carman said the plaintiffs’ claims are “so tremendous” that he’s not sure he’ll be able to walk away from them.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Carman said he figured if the boat sank he was covered, no matter what. He also testified that when the boat started sinking, he started gathering safety gear and gave his mother a task because she was “more of a problem than a solution in tense situations.”
Carman couldn’t remember whether he called out for his mother when it started to sink and said once he got on the life raft, he stood up and looked for her but could not find her.
The judge previously heard testimony from the man who sold Carman the boat, oceanographers, and insurance representatives.
The judge limited the scope of the trial to only include the insurance portion of the case. Questions regarding Linda Carman’s disappearance will not be considered in the verdict.