Federal Lawsuit Filed in Case of Missing Teen Boaters

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A federal lawsuit has been filed in the case of the two teenage boys lost at sea. Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, left for a fishing trip from the Jupiter Inlet in July 2015 and have not been seen since.

NBC 6 affiliate in West Palm Beach, WPTV, learned Monday Austin’s mother, Carly Black, is suing the mother and father of Perry Cohen. It begs the question, why would Black file a lawsuit, since she was the subject of an FDLE criminal investigation that found evidence of child neglect. However, a little research indicates the federal action may actually be in self-defense.

She’s asking a federal judge to uphold a maritime law that would limit her civil liability to the value of the boat the boys were on. That value is $500.

This is likely a legal pre-emptive strike against any potential wrongful death suits the Cohen family could file against her, especially after it was revealed Black was the subject of that FDLE criminal probe.

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Pamela Cohen’s attorney, Guy Rubin, explained a judge could rule against Black if there is evidence of negligence, and the information revealed in a FDLE report released last week may play an important role in the lawsuit.

“Any child’s disappearance shouldn’t go to any other agency except the FDLE,” said former State Representative Irv Slosberg.

Slosberg asked the FDLE to get involved in the investigation. The revived push came after the boys’ boat was recovered off the coast of Bermuda in March of last year. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agreed to reopen its investigation.

“Why we needed the FDLE is we would have never found out what we found out.”

While the FWC report concluded the boys capsized because of weather, the FDLE report highlighted actions that investigators believe contributed to the tragedy. Investigators pointed out several things, including that Black and other family members should have known that the boys were in imminent danger following a storm. No one could reach the boys, yet investigators say two hours passed before anyone called the authorities or Perry’s parents.

“The fact that Mr. Stephanos went out and searched is what every father would have done,” said Michael Pike.

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Pike made it very clear that his client Blu Stephanos, Austin’s father, is not the subject of this investigation. Though Pike believes the State Attorney’s Office’s decision not to file child neglect charges is appropriate. Pike added that Stephanos will continue to stand by Carly Black’s side.

“They support each other. They both lost a child and I believe that picking out parts and not reading both reports in tandem is a mistake.”

Carly Black’s attorneys said because of the pending and potential litigation, she will not be making a statement, responding to the investigation.

This story is courtesy of our news partner WPTV.