| SAN DIEGO, July 15
SAN DIEGO, July 15 A U.S. woman rescued with her
family from a Pacific Ocean sailboat after her infant daughter
became ill has filed suit against her satellite phone company
for cutting off service, a move she said led the family to seek
an emergency rescue and ultimately to scuttle their boat, her
lawyers said on Tuesday.
The complaint filed in San Diego Superior Court by Charlotte
Kaufman on Monday alleges that Whenever Communications LLC
deactivated the family's satellite phone's SIM card even though
the family's $240 a month bill had been paid in full since
The April rescue of the family by the California Air
National Guard and the U.S. Navy from their boat in the roiling
Pacific Ocean triggered a maelstrom of criticism of the parents
for taking their young children to sea.
Many critics called for the family to repay the rescue costs
estimated at around $660,000, even as rescuers repeatedly
declined to criticize the family after the rescue.
The Kaufmans - Charlotte, Eric and their two daughters,
Lyra, 1, and Cora, 3, set sail on a 36-foot (11-meter) vessel
headed to French Polynesia in March from Nayarit, Mexico, on a
trip estimated to take between three and six weeks.
Armed with supplies including a satellite phone purchased in
San Diego and an emergency rescue beacon, as well as food, water
and antibiotics in case an ailment from which Lyra had recently
recovered should recur - which it did.
When Lyra did not respond quickly to the antibiotics, the
Kaufmans used the satellite phone to call a doctor. But they
said that the company deactivated the phone in the interim,
preventing them from getting a return call.
They say that as a result, they were forced to activate
their emergency rescue beacon - knowing that rescuers would
require the family to sink the boat they had called home since
2007, according to the complaint.
Representatives from the satellite company did not
immediately return calls seeking comment, and the U.S. Coast
Guard declined comment.
Although the legal filing names the state and federal
rescuers, the complaint makes clear that it is only because the
law requires they be named as "indispensable parties."
The complaint invites both the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard
and the California Air National Guard to join in the suit to
recover costs of the rescue, which the family says would not
have been necessary had their satellite phone worked.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)