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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. ReefHound

    ReefHound PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Houston, TX
    What the NTSB finds will drive what modifications to boat layout, equipment, procedures, etc. that must be done but regardless what NTSB finds I think this incident has created an awareness to the fact that you are very vulnerable packed like sardines below deck with little way to evacuate quickly. Some will soldier on, willing to accept there are risks in life, but many will decide the risk is too great. I've been hearing a lot of comments in various venues to the effect that people are rethinking the whole concept of liveaboards. Of course there will continue to be liveaboards. My point was will there be enough willing to dismiss the risks to support the base that currently exists?
  2. flyingron

    flyingron Angel Fish

    Of course, that's the point of the NTSB. On a major investigation, they will make their recommendations for changes, typically asking the appropriate agency to modify their regulations or step up enforcement of ones in place, but ignored.
    Many regulations have their origins in the blood of the victims in prior accidents.
  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Wide-eyed nube in the Pub ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Orlando, FL
    I know that the legal issues are completely different for the military, but I have only had experience as a Navy aviation accident investigator / Safety Officer. We had a similar situation. The mishap investigation was completely separate from the JAG Manual investigation. Besides all the other reasons, we wanted witnesses to be as open as possible under the circumstances with the accident board. That didn't stop the JAG Manual investigation from interviewing /examining the same people, but the witness statements and deliberations and conclusions of the accident investigation were not admissible in the legal investigation.
    markmud likes this.
  4. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Thanks. That certainly makes more sense. I would never have thought conclusions and opinions would be admissible, but things like transcripts of interviews with witnesses, results of tests, simulations, etc.—no inherent reason why that shouldn’t be admissible.
  5. EricTheDood

    EricTheDood DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: California
    An NTSB interview is not a deposition, and I would guess that a current NTSB employee cannot serve as an expert witness - that would be a huge conflict of interest.

    Expert witnesses are paid handsomely. Top surgeons who serve as expert witnesses in big lawsuits are paid well over $1,000 an hour. Can you imagine what a top NTSB employee would be worth in an air crash lawsuit?

    Whichever side agrees with the NTSB report can ask the same questions to the same witnesses in depositions, and use their own expert witness to conduct the same tests and the same simulations. They just can't drag the NTSB into the courtroom.

    Lastly, jurors don't always follow the rules. Despite what the judge tells them, many will go home, go on the internet, and look up the NTSB report.
  6. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Right. I certainly wasn’t implying any of that.
  7. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    This is a fact of life for everyone today, but most don't see it, or choose not to. Ever get on a bus, plane, ferry, mall, sporting event, concert, and so on. Dangers are mitigated, not eliminated.

    lv2dive, Wolfie_47, markmud and 5 others like this.
  8. Why should the taxpayers be on the hook for this ? The taxpayers are already paying untold millions of $ for court costs, to raise the wreck from the sea bottom, and for the dozens/hundreds of investigators / regulators / bureaucrats across a dozen different federal / state/ local agencies for years to come!
    lv2dive and Boiler_81 like this.
  9. With respect to the liquidation value of 'Truth' and 'Vision', I'm not sure you could even give those 2 ships away at this point, much less sell them for $.
  10. I'm betting, going forward, that the remaining Truth Aquatics boats will find passing future inspections/certifications rather tougher than before, especially happening so close to the FAA being so throughly called out/exposed when certifying the 737Max airliners as safe and sound.

    The stigma now attached to the TA boats cannot be hosed off, no reputable consolidator/trip organizer will risk their business reputation or financial/legal/insurance exposure by booking on the remaining boats, which will be retired from service anyway, either via severe regulations, nobody willing to insure them, or a vanished dive market.

    Their boat was clearly dangerous and they just got lucky for a very long time until they got unlucky. The RMS Titantic fully met the lifeboat standards of it's day too (legal/regulatory standards) but sadly didn't meet common sense/reasonable person standards either, it just got 'unlucky' much sooner in it's operational career than did 'Conception'.

    That 'over a top bunk' escape hatch was an abomination and will likely turn out to be the world's most expensive 'escape' hatch in human history!
    CZS, roman50 and ReefHound like this.

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