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Major bends in Rangiroa leads to a $7.8 million settlement

Discussion in 'Scuba Related Court Cases' started by Peter69_56, Apr 18, 2015.


    SPARKMEL Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Firstly thank you for posting this article, I am lost for words, I am about to do my AOW next month in Lanzarote with my 13 year old son. As a new diver it has been drummed into me that YOU are responsible for yourself before during and after each dive. Even if someone with 25 years of experience tells you to do something you feel is unsafe then DON,T DO IT. What happended to the Buddy check or pre dive plan.
    Crazy man simply crazy. Another case of i've been diving for 25 years i know best..
  2. Ken Kurtis

    Ken Kurtis Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Beverly Hills, CA
    I debated long and hard about whether I would comment in this thread and it was actually SPARKMEL's post #21 where he said, " . . . it has been drummed into me that YOU are responsible for yourself before during and after each dive . . . " that gave me the final push to do so.

    Caveat up front: I was a retained expert in the trial for two of the defendants (Warren Miller Productions & Bonnier) and testified at trial. From my perspective, the Undercurrent article is somewhat of a whitewash and propaganda piece, leaving out some key details. None of this may change your mind and it doesn't alter that this was a terrible tragedy, but here are some other points to ponder:

    1. The position of the defendants was: We did hire an expert – or at least we thought we did. Prickett was supposed to be that expert, but turned out not to have the expertise (at least as far as SCUBA diving was concerned) that he held himself out as having. So he was supposed to be in control of the underwater stuff and telling the Top Dive people what he needed and how he needed it. And they certainly could say, "That won't work." At no time prior to the accident is there a record or testimony of him saying, "This is sort of outside of my area of expertise" nor did he ask for any additional help once in Tahiti.

    2. Top Dive not asking for a nitrox card is a red herring. (Also, Prickett stated that he had dove nitrox before on a Nat Geo shoot.) Diving nitrox meant Prickett absorbed LESS nitrogen that had he been diving on air. So the nitrox, even though he "shouldn't" have been diving it, probably worked to Prickett's advantage and left him a paraplegic instead of a quadriplegic.

    3. Likewise, the oxtox issue is moot and a red herring. Yes, they greatly exceeded the MOD but neither one of them toxed nor is there any way to know if they were close.

    4. Prickett made the choice to go up with Falk for the mask issue when he could have indicated to Bernard (Top Dive DM) to go up. There was nothing requiring Prickett to leave the group to go up with Falk.

    5. Pricket’s testimony regarding what he did or did not see when they were going back down was inconsistent. At various times he said (1) He saw Bernard and the group waiting for them, (2) He saw their bubbles but not them, (3) He didn't see anything and descended (with Falk) to try to find the group. Which is it? They can't all be correct.

    6. The down current theory was a red herring. There was substantial testimony, including that by Falk and by other experts, that down currents did not play a role. Even Pricket’s own testimony on the point was equivocal, at best.

    7. I felt the article gave the impression that they went down deep (regardless of why), quickly ran out of air, and immediately came back up. This is simply not even remotely true.

    8. The dive of Prickett and Falk, after they fixed the mask issue (which was about 6 minutes into the overall dive), lasted 21 minutes. About 12 minutes of that was at depths in excess of 150 feet. This was no up-and-down dive nor quick.

    9. Prickett was shooting video off and on through the entire dive including at the extreme depths. Some b-roll shots, some shots of Falk. The visual record doesn't support big time currents nor does it give any indication that Prickett felt anything was wrong. (A video recreation of the dive in real-time with Prickett's shots interspersed throughout the timeline and with depth and elapsed time visible throughout, was shown at the trial.)

    10. There was nothing preventing them from aborting the dive at numerous points, and it likely would have avoided the eventual outcome. Standard training calls for you to search for a lost dive or group for a minute or two, not 21 minutes. (Prickett testified that he'd never heard of this.) Additionally, the computer audible alarms were going off. And Falk has testified that he showed Prickett his (Falk's) gauge - reading in feet - three different times during the dive and Prickett gave him an OK sign each time until the last time when Falk was under 1,000psi at 180 feet which is how deep they were when they started their ascent.

    11. Falk and Prickett did the exactly same dive. Prickett ends up severely bent and paralyzed, Falk is fine. The radically different outcome also points to the capricious nature of nitrogen absorption. In theory, they both should have had the same outcome, either both fine or both paralyzed, and they did not. I don't think anyone can adequately explain why.

    12. There's no question this was a tragic dive. But (and this is MY spin), it seems to me it was a dive plan of Prickett's own (inadvertent) making. This was certainly not what the intended/planned dive was. To me, Prickett is the author of his own predicament but he now wants to blame others for this.

    13. Final point: Prickett did not have DAN or any other kind of medical/dive insurance. While there likely still would have been a lawsuit, it's likely any monetary award would have been substantially less.

    Also bear in mind that, due to some procedural circumstances that I'm still not clear about, the Tahitian DMs were never deposed nor testified. Their side of the story and version of events never came out and that might have had a significant effect on the jury's final determinations, both in terms of responsibility &/or damages.

    - Ken
    photog likes this.
  3. smooboy

    smooboy Angel Fish

    Thank you Ken for this info-
    This does give us a very different perspective on events then the Undercurrent article did. And as you yourself point out, this is still only part of the story.
    It definitely highlights (yet again!) how unreliable media accounts of events can be. (You want to know what really happened at Deepwater Horizon? I'd tell ya but then I'd lose my job....)
    I also still stand by my assertion that dive professionals do owe a duty of care to recreational divers who employ them, but this in no way obviates an individual divers primary responsibility for their own safety.
  4. iamrushman

    iamrushman Great White

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: ft. lauderdale, florida
    everything is good till something goes wrong....

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