A Philadelphia man has been awarded a $1.35 million judgment for injuries suffered in a 2007 personal watercraft accident in Wildwood.
Anthony Dinenno, 18, of Kent Lane, was 14 on Aug. 30, 2007, when he was a passenger on a Yamaha WaveRunner in Richardson Sound just west of Wildwood. Dinenno suffered severe injuries to his left leg when another WaveRunner, operated by 23-year-old Mark Roy, of Connecticut, ran into him.
“He went though four surgeries, was in a wheelchair for a month and now has a metal plate with six screws in it. They did a skin graft, and he lost sensation in his foot. They almost had to amputate his foot,” said his father, Steven Dinenno.
Judge Joseph E. Irenas, of the U.S. District Court in Camden, ruled that Roy was 80 percent responsible for the accident, with 20 percent negligence attributed to George R. Djukanovic Jr., who operated the WaveRunner. Djukanovic was 18 at the time.
Thomas Vesper, Dinenno’s attorney, said he did not understand how Irenas attributed any blame to Djukanovic but noted under the law that Roy is responsible to pay the judgment. Roy did not appear in court and has refused to answer any complaints against him, Vesper said.
“It’s probably an uncollectible debt,” said Steven Dinenno, who is using the case to warn about the dangers of young people riding personal watercraft without proper training or supervision.
“I’d like to get the word out so it doesn’t happen to somebody else’s kid,” he said.
The family also sued the renter of the WaveRunners, Lucky Fin Water Sports of West Rio Grande Avenue, but on Nov. 4, 2011, Irenas removed the company as a defendant.
“The judge found it was an unavoidable collision,” Vesper said.
Roy’s watercraft slammed into the left rear section of Djukanovic’s machine, smashing Dinenno’s leg below the knee. Steven Dinenno said his son was a talented athlete and especially loved baseball, but now can no longer play sports and is still in pain. The family supplied documents in court indicating he will suffer permanent disabilities.
“He played a ton of sports, and he was always on the all-star teams. He hasn’t played sports since. It’s never going to be right,” Dinenno said.
He argued the judge should have made Lucky Fin share some of the liability, though he has no plans to appeal.
Vesper said he expects the judge to add interest and other costs to the judgment. He said he is helping the family find a lawyer who specializes in collecting on judgments.
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