Family plans to sue rental company after boat sinks in the Gulf of Mexico

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LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A Lehigh Acres family plans to sue the company they rented a boat from last week after it sunk in the Gulf of Mexico.

There were eight people on board, four children and two elderly.

“I’d like to see boating companies be more accountable for the boats that they put people in,” said Bonita Laven.

It’s been ten days since the boat Laven and her family rented submerged off the Sanibel coast.

“I don’t swim, so it was a very, very, scary day for all of us,” said Laven.

Laven and her husband Harry were both injured that day. She has a possibly broken foot while her husband has a scratched cornea.

“Make sure that boat’s seaworthy, make sure that company is someone you’re gonna trust with your life,” said attorney Steven Martin.

Martin is the family’s attorney. He tells WINK News they rented the boat from Paradise Boat Rentals in Cape Coral.

“We’re investigating a lawsuit, we have a company that rented the boat that we feel is not seaworthy,” said Martin.

WINK News reached out to Paradise Boat Rentals. In a statement, the company says the boat took on water because of a technical defect. They also say high waves flooded the deck, the boat was not properly anchored, and the weight of the passengers was not distributed properly.

“Be careful who you rent a boat from, do your homework, read the reviews, go to the Better Business Bureau and find out what they’re rating is. I wish that we had done that,” said Laven.

The family says Florida Fish and Wildlife officials gave the company a warning and cited them from not being properly titled.

Our investigation also uncovered Paradise Boat Rentals has an expired fictitious name license with the State of Florida. However, Cape Coral tells WINK News the company does have an active license with the city.

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