BOSTON (AP) â€” Rep. Patrick Kennedy's insurance company settled a claim that he burned out the engine on a rented yacht this summer â€” at least the fourth expensive boat he has damaged, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
Charter companies and boat owners complained that the Rhode Island congressman has damaged rented boats, then said the problems weren't his fault and that he shouldn't have to fix them, the newspaper said.
Tony Marcella, Kennedy's chief of staff, told the Globe that Kennedy is an ``ace sailor'' who had run into bad luck while boating. Marcella said Kennedy had never shirked his responsibilities or previously been involved in a situation involving legal action or payments.
In the latest incident, Atlantic Navigation Co. in Mystic, Conn., said Kennedy burned out an engine, damaged a sail and ran down a battery on a 42-foot sloop before abandoning it off Martha's Vineyard in August. The company estimated damage at $28,000.
Kennedy, 33, the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, called the boat a lemon and said the company should reimburse him for $7,700 he paid for towing and repairs during his trip. His insurance company settled the claim Tuesday for an undisclosed amount, said his lawyer, Bill Lynch.
Sam Welch, charter manager of the Tortola Marine Management, a Virgin Islands company, said Kennedy twice rented boats from him, returned them damaged and tried to avoid responsibility. He said one vessel Kennedy rented in 1996 was returned with a broken boom, a blown-out sail and a missing dinghy.
The cost of repairs exceeded Kennedy's deposit of several thousand dollars, but the company took the loss as a cost of doing business, he said.
``I don't think he intends to do it maliciously. It just sort of happens,'' Welch told the Globe. ``But he should be taking responsibility for it.''
Marcella said Kennedy was unaware that Tortola had taken a financial loss.
In August 1999, a 36-foot sailboat that Kennedy rented from a Portsmouth, R.I., company became tangled in fishing nets and a worker estimated damage at ``a couple thousand dollars,'' the Globe said. The worker asked that he and the company not be identified.