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Friday, May 9, 2003



Company not guilty
in Maui kayak death

A California man said he should
have been warned of conditions


A federal jury has found that Extreme Sports Hawaii of Maui was not negligent in the death of a California woman whose husband claimed she was attacked by a shark while kayaking during a March 1999 belated honeymoon.

Manouchehr Monazzami-Taghadomi, of Sunnyvale, Calif., had filed suit against the company claiming it should not have rented the kayak to them because there was a small-craft advisory in effect at the time and it failed to warn the couple of strong winds.

He had claimed they were paddling the kayak off Lahaina when they were swept out to sea by strong winds.

He said his wife, Nahid Davoodabai, 29, lost an arm in a shark attack and that she allegedly died on the kayak before being washed away by a wave.

He told rescuers he drifted to Kahoolawe, where he found a telephone in a bunker and called for help. His wife's body was never found, despite an extensive air and land search.

Monazzami-Taghadomi, a computer consultant from California, and his wife's parents in Iran had sought $6 million in damages but, by the end of the three-week trial in U.S. District Court, had reduced it to $2 million, said Ann Aratani, attorney for Extreme Sports Hawaii.

She said Extreme Sports had told the couple to kayak in an area close to shore protected by winds.

Monazzami-Taghadomi had kayaked in the area twice earlier and said he had experienced no problems.

There were many factual inconsistencies in Monazzami-Taghadomi's version of the events leading to his wife's death that the defense raised in its case, but the jury did not go beyond finding that Extreme Sports was not negligent, Aratani said.

Maui police did find the kayak, two paddles and a life vest that the defense claimed was the brand that Extreme Sports purchased. The vest, however, had no shark bites or tears and was found with all three buckles in front unbuckled, Aratani said.

Two paddles were also found near the kayak, with one leaning against rocks.

The husband had claimed he had lost one of the paddles the night of the attack.

Maui police classified it as a missing-person case because no body was found.

Attorneys for Monazzami-Taghadomi could not be reached for comment.

He was not present during the verdict.

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