Carman refuses discovery requests in sunken-boat insurance claim
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Attorneys for the companies that insured Nathan Carman's ill-fated Chicken Pox are asking a federal judge to force Carman to answer questions about the day his boat sank with his mother on board as well as information on the homicide of his grandfather in 2013.
Many of the questions left unanswered or documents not supplied are relevant to the plaintiff's case because of the "striking parallels" between the death of his mother and the homicide of his grandfather, according to documents filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Attorneys for the National Liability and Fire Insurance Co. and the Boat Owners Association of the United States, wrote Carman, of Vernon, "has not provided any of the requested discovery ..."
In refusing to answer the questions or supply documents, Carman's attorney cited "invalid objections to most of the interrogatories and requests for production and those for which there are no objections have no answers or responses," noted the plaintiffs' attorneys.
The insurance companies have denied Carman's claim for the Chicken Pox, which sank on Sept. 18, 2016, with his mother presumably on board "because your boat's sinking was caused by your intentional acts ... [and] the loss was not fortuitous or accidental." The plaintiff's contend Carman, by physically altering the boat, created an "unseaworthy" vessel.
Attorneys for the insurance companies are asking the court to compel Carman to answer their questions and to supply documents, including his Social Security number, his boat's registration and its hull identification number. The attorneys also want information on Carman's past employment, treatment for mental health issues, any civil or legal actions he has been a party to or insurance claims he has made in the past, and his school records starting from when he was in sixth grade.
The plaintiff's attorneys also want Carman's phone records and the identities of anyone he has spoken with about the sinking of the Chicken Pox and about his grandfather's unsolved homicide "potentially similarly motivated by Nathan Carman's possible $[multi]million inheritance."
"Nathan Carman was the last known person to see his grandfather and mother alive," wrote the attorneys. "Plaintiffs submit they are entitled to discover the identity of all persons Nathan Carman 'communicated with ... regarding his grandfather's homicide and/or his mother's death and other potential witnesses."
Using Carman's phone records, the plaintiffs hope to reconstruct his "comings and goings during September 2016 in the lead up to the dangerous alterations he made on his boat the night before it sank ... Those telephone records are further discoverable as a reasonable alternative for reconstructing the course he navigated on the night the boat sank and where that happened, given that navigational electronics went to the bottom somewhere."
As far as school records are concerned, wrote the attorneys, "The Boston Globe reported that as a child Nathan Carman 'held another child hostage with a knife,' and that his 'mother feared that he suffered from paranoid delusions. Once, he called his high school's vice principal `Satan,' and a secretary `an agent of the devil.'"
Other information the attorneys want the court to compel Carman to supply includes a record of all the firearms Carman owns or used to have in his possession.
"Nathan Carman's firearms are at issue in this case ... not just because his grandfather was shot to death," they wrote. "The parallels between his grandfather's murder and his mother's death are striking. Nathan Carman's boat and navigational electronics sank, never to be found, after his mother was last onboard; his Sig Sauer 716 Patrol .308 semi-automatic assault rifle, the same caliber weapon used to murder his grandfather, went missing afterwards, as did the GPS in Nathan Carman's motor vehicle."
The attorneys therefore seek discovery about the firearms "insofar as they may have been used in conjunction with 'criminal wrongdoing' or 'illegality' on the voyage during which his boat sank and disappeared."
The plaintiffs are seeking Carman's mental health records in case his attorney advises him to use "his widely reported Asperger Syndrome or other condition(s) as part of his claim or defense in this case, for instance, to explain his actions, inactions, intent, or lack thereof."
The attorneys also wonder if Carman "made an insurance claim for the assault rifle that went missing after his grandfather was murdered."
According to court documents obtained by the Hartford Courant, an arrest warrant was issued in July 2014 for Carman on a murder charge, but that warrant was returned unsigned with a request from the prosecutor for further information. That warrant also named Carman as the last known person to see his grandfather alive. Chakalos was found dead the next morning. He had been shot three times. Chakalos owned a second home in West Chesterfield, N.H., which he decorated each year with Christmas lights.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow him on Twitter @audette.reformer.
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