WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – White Plains teen Tyler Madoff's parents will file a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the touring company that was leading the July 4 guided hike in Hawaii when he went missing, the family's lawyer said Tuesday.
Tyler's body was never found. His parents will announce the lawsuit at 1 p.m. at lawyer Susan Karten’s Manhattan office.
The family of the Scarsdale High School football and track athlete will seek punitive damages for negligence and infliction of emotional distress from Bold Earth Teen Adventures and Hawaii Pack and Paddle, which led the hike for Madoff and 11 other students along a trail on Kealakekua Bay.
Neither Bold Earth nor Hawaii Pack and Paddle would comment on the matter.
Days after Tyler went missing, his father, Michael, criticized Bold Earth, saying "The people from Bold Earth expeditions have shown poor judgment and extremely poor character."
The lawsuit alleges that the tour leaders "led the children from safety into dangerous, off-limits tide pools, which cost Tyler his life."
It also says that heavy surf and wave advisories for that day were ignored by the tour guides, which included two from Bold Earth and two from Hawaii Pack and Paddle. Additionally, it claims proper background checks weren't done on the tour leader from Bold Earth, and that if done, would reveal a criminal history. For a summary of the lawsuit, view the PDF attached below.
Abbott Wallis, founder of Bold Earth, has said Pack and Paddle has led successful tours of Hawaii for his company for more than 20 years, but has pointed the finger their way.
"The company that has the permit that's trying to point fingers is the source of Mr. Madoff's information about what was done, wasn't done, why it was done," Wallis said. "Our guides did everything possible to save these kids. Our guides are professional, and we were on a guided kayak, snorkel, hike and dinner and lunch experience that lasted from 8:30 in the morning to 9 at night. Everything we did was under their guidance. That's what they do."
While taking a break in a tide pool near Kealakekua Bay, waves swept a half-dozen of the teens into the bay, including Madoff. The U.S. Coast Guard sent crews by air and sea on a search and rescue mission, but his body was never found. The Madoff family held a memorial service for Tyler on July 26.