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Legal considerations for the Fire on dive boat Conception in CA

Discussion in 'Scuba Related Court Cases' started by onestep, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
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    @JackD342 that’s more along the lines of my thinking—that the reason h law says NTSB findings aren’t admissible in a civil suit would be that the standards are different, not that it would cause witnesses to invoke their 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.
     
  2. JackD342

    JackD342 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Highland Park, IL
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    May very well be more than one good reason. My interpretation is that in a "presumed innocent" litigation scenario, you aren't allowed to introduce some other similar governmental finding of guilt or innocence.
     
    rjack321 likes this.
  3. Mindless

    Mindless Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Rocklin, CA
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    NTSB finding are merely the views of the investigators based on their investigation. My understanding is that those views, or findings, are developed collaboratively without regard to meeting the legal standards of civil litigation. To do so would complicate and almost certainly extend the already lengthy process of determining the probable cause of an accident. I expect it would also result in the NTSB investigators themselves being "put on trial" after every accident. The bottom line is this:

    "The purpose of the statute making the NTSB's reports of accidents inadmissible in actions arising out of such accidents is to exclude reports that express agency views as to the probable cause of the accident because that is a finding in the province of the jury or fact finder." Britton v. Dall. Airmotive, Inc., No. 1:07-cv-00547-EJL, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163211, at *5-6 (D. Idaho May 20, 2011).

    "The legislative history of this statute demonstrates that the purpose of this exclusionary rule is to prevent a usurpation of the jury's role as fact finder." McLeod v. ERA Aviation, No. 93-294, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3204, at *3 (E.D. La. Mar. 12, 1996).​
     
    Lorenzoid, rjack321 and JackD342 like this.
  4. EricTheDood

    EricTheDood DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: California
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    NTSB reports include analyses and conclusions. In a court case, that's the job of an expert witness. I think the fear is that a jury will take an NTSB report as gospel (ignoring everything else), or a good law firm will attempt to discredit the report, and thereby the NTSB (possibly with dirty tactics), in order to win the case.

    Of course, all this really means is that the official NTSB report can't be introduced as evidence. It doesn't preclude an expert witness from basically regurgitating exactly what's in the report. In fact, it would be foolish not to, considering even a big law firm doesn't come close to have the same investigative resources as the NTSB.
     
  5. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
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    My rant is towards the inflamatory rhetoric of the hull surveyor, if he, and any other marine industry proffessional wants to use the language "a compliant fire trap", why wasen't he and others doing something about the problem. Or did he find out after the fact, like the rest of us, and just want a memorable quote for his 15 minutes of fame.

    He didn't have to use that quote. Oh, by the way, guess how big the bow escape hatch on my last two cabin style boats were, and probably most all are. There's a trade off between ease of escape, and having a larger hatch which is more likely fail and flood.

    I understand trade offs, this one may need to be revisited, it may even be changed depending on what the NTSB finds.



    Bob
     
    lv2dive, DebbyDiver, markmud and 6 others like this.
  6. ReefHound

    ReefHound PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Houston, TX
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    Ironically, I had just begun reading No Safe Harbor, the book about the Wave Dancer tragedy, last Saturday.

    While the other boats may be protected legally, the court of public opinion may render a different verdict. Peter Hughes continued to operate successfully for many years but there are some key differences. PH boats were world-wide serving many different international markets whereas TA boats are all one small area serving a largely local clientele. Yes, people from all over dive with them but you can see from the list of victims nearly all were from California. They have suspended all operations and it wouldn't surprise me if that isn't permanent. The other boats in the area have a dubious future as well, imo.
     
  7. KevinNM

    KevinNM DIR Practitioner

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    The Fling is very much like the incident vessel. It won't be just California.
     
    Hoyden likes this.
  8. ChrisM

    ChrisM Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
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    You guys nailed the NTSB inadmissabilty discussion

    As for the “naval expert,” I’m sorry but I have little time for someone who proclaims expertise yet opines on facts without ever having been on the boat or inspected the scene and is IMHO seeking a few seconds of notoriety or- more likely - retention as an expert in what is likely to be a lucrative case

    Ken Kurtis on the other hand has intimate personal knowledge of the boat and its procedures. While he does have a tendency to drone on :wink: I surely give him more credence than most
     
    markmud, Bob DBF and chillyinCanada like this.
  9. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
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    It will depend on what the NTSB finds.

    Divers want to dive, and the Channel Islands are gorgeous, there will be dive boats.

    Reconfiguring the emergency exit will cost money, and probably berths as well as their overnight pasengers. Instead of the cabinet exit enclose a short passage to exit on the aft deck. A fireproof charging station should not be a huge issue. This assumes it's not an unknown issue with the boat itself.

    Loss of overnight trips will be the biggest hit, divers will still go out on the boats but the 2 and 3 day trips are the real draw for everyone. Without the overnights, the logistics are an expensive pain in the butt for divers up in NorCal, or anywhere several hours away.


    Bob
     
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  10. rjack321

    rjack321 Captain

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    They are also the most economical fuel wise. Doing just day trips is going to drive up the fuel costs per dive by 2x or more.
     
    markmud and Bob DBF like this.

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