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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. KWS

    KWS ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SE TEXAS
    From a moral standpoint you are right. The bummer of it is that we have seen too many reports of someone breaking into a home getting shot and suing the home owner and winning, Things like that forces second thought as to whether one wants to take the chance of exposing them selves to possible later reprocussions. Makes people think twice about diving with instabuddys. Is the reaction logical perhaps,,,,,, is it understandable ,,,yes,, how do you fix it???? well ,,,,,,,,,
  2. Cowfish Aesthetic

    Cowfish Aesthetic Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Chicago
    I honestly have never seen a report like that. But regardless, what does any of this recent conversation have to do with Legal considerations for the Fire on dive boat Conception in CA?
    shoredivr and chillyinCanada like this.
  3. KWS

    KWS ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SE TEXAS
    they are news reports centered around self defense from home invasion used as an example of how one gets sued over the most unexpected things.

    probably result of the off shoot to legal obligations etc. SORRY
  4. kafkaland

    kafkaland Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Saline, Michigan
    With respect to the duty to render aid, laws vary widely. In Germany, for instance, everyone is required to render aid in an emergency within their ability and without neglecting other important duties or endangering yourself. Generally that means when you come across a traffic accident, the least you will have to do is call for emergency services. But if you have the training, you are expected to do more. Same for diving. Even if you’re just OW trained, you are expected to share air with an OOA diver as you were trained, as long as you have enough to share. And the higher your qualifications are, the more you are expected to do to help a diver in distress. In return, you can’t be sued for damages from the results of your actions, as long as they were in good faith.
    eleniel and rjack321 like this.
  5. ReefHound

    ReefHound PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Houston, TX
    And there's the rub, you end up in court to determine if you acted in good faith.
  6. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    The conversation becomes tedious. I would help another individual in distress, to the best of my abilities, without obviously sacrificing my own life. I would do this diving or on land. In context, I am a retired physician.
    eleniel, shoredivr, Nirvana and 4 others like this.
  7. pauldw

    pauldw Solo Diver

  8. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    From the article you linked:

    "Any criminal charges would likely involve an obscure federal law known as the seaman's manslaughter statute. It only requires showing negligence or that the captain or crew committed misconduct or neglected their duties."

    "Ryan Sims, a cook on the boat who broke his leg trying to escape the flames, claimed in a separate lawsuit that the boat was unseaworthy and operated in an unsafe manner."

    I've seen the posts on the 'roving watch' issue. That said, I wonder if the manner in which Truth Aquatics conducted business aboard the Conception was consistent with that customary for similar boats and purposes in the region. If so, 'manslaughter' sounds like a very heavy-handed intervention that will help no one who died. Even if a prosecutor could make such a case, I doubt he has to, and little good seems expected from such a course.

    Now, claiming a Coast Guard inspected vessel was unseaworthy sounds a bit much...why was Sims working on the Conception if he thought it unseaworthy and operated unsafely?

    Can anyone comment on how common it is for manslaughter charges to be brought in marine fatality cases when there was no intent to harm anyone? Just based on alleged negligence?

    chillyinCanada likes this.
  9. Cert1967

    Cert1967 Let's Go Skiing

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Vail, Colorado

    Slow day at the office Richard?

    Excerpts from a 2004 Loyola Law Review article are below. While time has passed and research into the current status of the law is required, an interesting historical perspective of maritime law and its origins are presented, along with a discussion of concurrent civil and criminal actions.

    Really slow day? There are hundreds of references for you to explore.

    It would be interesting to know if the crew members gave statements following the incident and the content of the statements.

    Statements without the benefit of counsel? Statements to the FBI that were not truthful - more problems.


    Jones Walker LLP | Homepage

    Maritime associate Bill Wynne co-authored for the winter publication of the 2004 Loyola Law Review the article titled, William P. Wynne & Brian M. Ballay, "Seaman's Manslaughter: A Potential Sea of Troubles for the Maritime Defendant and a Clever Mechanism for Taking Arms Against the Slings and Arrows of Maritime Plaintiffs," 50 Loy L .Rev. 869 (2004).

    The article discusses an obscure federal criminal statute, colloquially referred to as "Seaman's Manslaughter," which imposes criminal liability on some maritime interests whose mere negligence causes the death of a human being. <<>> The authors show not only how the statute can work a manifest injustice on maritime interests but also how the statute combined with the privilege against self incrimination can be used by maritime interests to effectively curtail wrongful death suits and force settlement. <<>> The article presents an excellent history of the development of the general maritime law and Seaman's Manslaughter. The article is directed toward the attention of maritime interests but would serve as an interesting piece for any entity facing the possibility of concurrent civil and criminal litigation.



    ... every time a visitor or passenger aboard a vessel is killed due to the negligence of a captain, pilot, engineer, or seaman, a civil suit against that tortfeasor and that tortfeasor’s employer, usually a vessel owner, puts in issue the negligence of and, accordingly, the criminal liability of the primary tortfeasor, the vessel owner, and the corporate officers of a corporate vessel owner. 257

    257. As noted herein, the standard of criminal culpability is likely the same standard upon which a finding of civil liability could rest. Compare O’Keefe, 2004 WL 224574, at *5, with the standards set forth in 46 U.S.C. app. § 688, and Gallick v. Baltimore & Ohio R.R. Co., 372 U.S. 108 (1963).
    More pertinent, every time a corporate vessel owner seeks to limit his liability, the privity and knowledge of the corporate vessel owner and the corporate officer comes directly into issue. 259

    259 A shipowner may limit his liability to the amount of the vessel except when he has “privity or knowledge” of the injury causing mechanism. 46 U.S.C. app. § 183(a) (2000).
    Accordingly, an owner’s failure to prove lack of privity or knowledge can lead not only to the catastrophic result that the shipowner cannot limit his liability, but also to the even more disastrous result that the shipowner and its executive officers will face federal indictments while the corporate offices are raided by federal agents with warrants to search, seize, and arrest anything and everything possible.

  10. cerich

    cerich ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Georgia
    The latest reports of TA shutting down and "Right now we feel it’s important to dedicate our entire efforts to make our boats models of new regulations that we will continue to work on with the NTSB and Coast Guard,” Truth Aquatics said, referring to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board." Is interesting.

    It seems to be sending the message that the regulations they operated under were not adequate, which to me while a good discussion to be had, should start from the place of an operation that complied with regulations. By having all crew asleep, as per the ntsb, they weren't.

    Just passing inspection is only one aspect, operation under the law matters as well. If I get my car safety check done (if Georgia had one..) and then while driving on the highway while texting and happen to look up just as I hit a puddle and hydroplane into a tree....I get a ticket, I don't get to blame the inspection not being good enough in checking the tires.

    This case shows a normalized deviance towards vessel operation that by all reports is FAR from only TA, much as the "boat is only a taxi" normalized but ultimately wrong deviance very common in the dive industry.

    I'll be blunt, while some operations offer professional Mariners and dive pros, many if not most offer dive pros that get Mariner licences just to operate. I REALLY prefer a professional Mariner that happens to be driving a dive vessel

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