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Laywers meet in private in Nathan Carman insurance case

Nathan Carman arrives in a small boat at the US Coast Guard station in Boston, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. Carman spent a week at sea in a life raft before being rescued by a passing freighter. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

An insurance case involving Nathan Carman, the man who survived a fishing trip in which his mother disappeared, appeared in U.S. District Court in Providence on Monday.

Carman, of Vermont, is seeking $85,000 from two companies that insured his boat, which sank during a fishing trip with Carman and his mother on board Sept. 17, 2016.

The two left from Ram Point Marina in Wakefield in a 32-foot aluminum boat. After the boat sank, Carman was rescued 100 miles off Martha's Vineyard in a life raft about a week later, but his mother, Linda, who lived in Connecticut, was never found. She is presumed dead.

Attorneys met in a chamber conference behind closed doors with the magistrate judge, so no one was allowed inside.

Carman did not appear at the courthouse. Attorneys involved in the case walked out of the federal building in Providence without comment on what went on.

According to court filings, the plaintiffs -- National Liability & Fire Insurance Co. and the Boat Owners Association of the United States – do not want to pay the claim. They plan to show that the sinking of Carman's boat was neither accidental or fortuitous, noting that repairs he had made on the vessel prior to the departure were incomplete, improper and faulty.

Citing Carman’s own testimony under oath, the suit claims that “he removed the boat's trim tabs and thereby opened four half dollar-sized holes in the hull near the waterline and did not fill them in a satisfactory fashion.”

The filing goes on to say that “his actions or inactions regarding his mother's death are within the scope of discovery as ‘relevant’ to the sinking and as is his grandfather's unsolved homicide,” which some believe was potentially motivated by Carman's possible $11 million inheritance.

In an email response, David Anderson, who is Carman's attorney, said that unless the plaintiffs amended their complaint to allege that Carman intended to kill his mother or killed his grandfather years ago, discovery relating to those subjects should not be allowed.

"You have not alleged that Nathan intended to sink the vessel and/or kill his mother or that he killed his grandfather years ago," wrote Anderson, citing Carman's Asperger's and the "field day" the tabloid press is having with him.

Anderson also said that he is "not agreeing to videotaped depo of Mr. Carman," which the plaintiffs requested be done at the federal courthouse in Rhode Island.

Carman has filed counter claims for breach of contract and claims for bad faith marketing, as he has not been criminally charged in either his mother’s or grandfather's death.

In a pre-trial order issued Monday, Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan set several dates in early 2018 as deadlines for discovery and motions to be filed. But she also wrote that “every effort should be made to settle the case before jurors are summoned for emplacement.”

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