ST. PETERSBURG — Jannus Live owner Jeff Knight is being sued by the family of a man who died after slipping off Knight's yacht earlier this year.
James J. Young, 49, of St. Petersburg, fell into the bay, hitting his head on the way down, as he tried to step from the yacht Pure Knight Life at about 6 a.m. Jan. 18.
Young had spent the night socializing with a group of people aboard the yacht, docked near the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.
Young's friends, including Knight, jumped in after him, but he was unresponsive when they pulled him back on deck.
He was pronounced dead later that morning at Bayfront Medical Center. The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office determined Young drowned.
Officials also said Young had cocaine in his system and that his blood-alcohol level was 0.239, nearly three times above the 0.08 level at which Florida law presumes a driver is impaired.
Young's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Knight in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court on Aug. 3, court records show.
The suit claims that a gangplank connecting Knight's boat to the dock was "inherently dangerous" because it did not have a two-sided railing.
"The entire railing on one side was missing, which was in violation of multiple federal standards," said Orlando attorney Eric Faddis, who represents Young's family. "The boat owner is responsible to make sure that is in place."
Knight was not aware of the suit until contacted by a reporter Monday night. He called the incident "tragic," but said he could not comment because he had not seen the suit or been served yet.
Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-9643.