Judge Dismisses Activist's Lawsuit Over Makah Injuries

In April 2000, Erin Abbott was one of a number of activists who used watercraft to dart in and out of an exclusion zone set up by the Coast Guard during the Makah whale hunt. Abbott’s watercraft collided with a Coast Guard boat that attempted to shield a Makah canoe in the exclusion zone.

Activists at the time likened the collision to attempted murder on the part of the Coast Guard and, incredibly, Abbott sued the Coast Guard over the injuries.

Not surprisingly, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that a judge has dismissed Abbott’s lawsuit saying that she was “wholly responsible” for the injuries she sustained.

According to the Post-Intelligencer, Judge Franklin Burgess said in his ruling that,

Ms. Abbott thus not only intentionally violated the MEZ (exclusionary zone), which she knew was in effect, and pled guilty to negligent endangerment of life at sea, and violated the rules of the road, but she violated safe operating practices, good seamanship, federal regulation and common sense in making high-speed passes with a personal watercraft in the vicinity of a canoe, a vessel engaged in a completely lawful activity in the open ocean with little freeboard.

Abbott was sentenced to just 120 hours of community service on the negligent endangerment charge.


Judge throws out whaling protester’s lawsuit against Coast Guard Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 6, 2003.

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