Just two months after a Central Texas man filed suit against a Pennsylvania man over a missing gun, a judge has awarded more than $61,000 to the plaintiff as part of a default judgment.

Visiting judge Roy Quintanilla Friday granted Micah Kehtel‘s motion for default judgement, citing the defendant’s failure to respond to the lawsuit and allowing him to recover $61,500 in damages plus more than $2,000 for attorney’s fees and other expenses, court records show.

Kehtel filed suit against Massimo Gera, otherwise known as Max Gera, in August in the Galveston County Court at Law No. 3, asserting in July 2016 he sent the Pennsylvania man a check for $2,750 and supplies to highly customize his .44-caliber pistol.

Gera then contacted Kehtel in April 2017 to tell him the gun was finished and Kehtel sent a second check with the remaining $2,750 balance for the work, according to the lawsuit.

Gera deposited both checks, but Kehtel never received the gun, the lawsuit asserts.

Court officials served Gera on Aug. 25 and an affidavit of service was returned to the court clerk on Sept. 4, but the defendant never responded to the suit, according to the judge’s ruling.


The attorney representing five federal pilots seeking state licenses to guide vessels into local ports is asking to argue their case in front of the Austin-based Texas Third District Court of Appeals.

Justin Renshaw filed a reply brief Oct. 17 seeking oral arguments in front of the court and is waiting for a reply, he said.

Renshaw is representing the five pilots in a longstanding lawsuit against the members of the Galveston-Texas City Pilots Association, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and members of the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County over who has the right to guide vessels into local ports.

A Travis County judge in April sided against Renshaw and granted the pilots association’s motion for summary judgement and Abbott’s plea to the jurisdiction, but the case has since moved to the appeals court.

“The next thing is for us to wait for the court of appeals to let us know if they will have an oral argument,” Renshaw said. “If not, we will simply wait for a ruling.”

Renshaw initially filed the lawsuit in July 2017 in the 261st District Court in Travis County against the five members of the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County, arguing the group is facilitating an illegal monopoly.

The Board of Pilot Commissioners, a five-member panel appointed by the governor, has historically granted state licenses only to members of the Galveston-Texas City Pilots Association.

The 16-member association charges a tariff on each foreign-flagged oil tanker, cruise passenger ship or other vessel its members pilot into or out of ports in the county.

Tariff rates and licenses must be approved by the pilot commissioners. The pilots association does not face competition, a system predicated on the belief that pilots vying for business might take unnecessary risks and cause unsafe waterways.


A Texas man and a charter company are suing several insurance groups, asserting they were wrongfully denied an insurance claim on a boat that sank near the Galveston Yacht Basin.

Attorneys Reed Burritt and Jeffrey Todd filed the suit on behalf of Smokin’ Reels of Texas LLC and William Owens Tuesday in the 56th District Court against G&M Marine, Diers and Stark, XL Specialty Insurance and Navigators Insurance, seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in damages.

The plaintiffs owned an insurance policy from G&M Marine, Specialty and Navigators on a vessel named Grateful, the lawsuit asserts.

Grateful sunk in January near the Galveston Yacht Basin because it hit a submerged object or sustained damage in a winter storm, the lawsuit asserts.

“The Grateful and its engines sustained extensive damage,” the lawsuit asserts. “Plaintiffs promptly notified defendants of the Grateful’s sinking.”

Officials with Diers and Stark, agents of the insurance company, arrived and recommended not immediately salvaging the ship, causing additional damage, the lawsuit asserts.

The defendants then denied the insurance claim despite evidence, the lawsuit asserts.

The defendants have not yet responded to the lawsuit, court records show.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com



(4) comments

Miceal O'Laochdha

"The pilots association does not face competition, a system predicated on the belief that pilots vying for business might take unnecessary risks and cause unsafe waterways."
This really makes excellent sense. By the way, I am thinking of starting up a package delivery company. Do you think the State will grant me a monopoly, to ensure I don't take unnecessary risks while driving around town vying for business?
The Mississippi River has long had both Federal and State Pilots for ships going to up to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and all points on the river. I guess the Pilots in Louisiana are not tempted to act unsafely to beat out the competition.

Gary Miller

The only reason for the pilots monopoly is competition could reduce costs and improve services.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Federal Pilots take the exact same USCG pilotage examinations as State Pilots and hold the same licenses. That is sufficient governmental regulation to ensure the safe practices of every ship's officer and crewmember. I know the Galtex Pilots are men of integrity am sure that they would prefer the GDN stop repeating that they must be state-regulated to discourage them from operating unsafely while "vying for business" in every pilot-related news story. But, it does not bother them enough to actually give up their competition-free advantage...

George Croix

"Judge awards man damages in gun lawsuit'

Instead of:

"Judge awards damages in gun theft lawsuit"


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