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Truth Aquatics - CASE 2:19-cv-07693 COMPLAINT EXONERATION OF LIABILITY

Discussion in 'Scuba Related Court Cases' started by Cert1967, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. Cert1967

    Cert1967 Let's Go Skiing

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Vail, Colorado
    241
    155
    43
    I suggest a separate thread dedicated to the federal court case in admiralty, referenced in the title, would better serve the reader, rather than the meandering discussion of general legal issues presented by a somewhat similar thread.

    There is much to be gained from reading the actual pleadings in the case – if you are so inclined. I've summarized portions of the pleadings. If you wish the full monty - dig into the actual pleadings and read the referenced material.

    I propose to download and attach the documents associated with the case in this thread. The first eight documents, in case 2:19cv07693, are attached to this posting. Additional documents will follow as availability and my time allow.

    And here we go…

    *************************************

    The case is captioned

    CASE NO. 2:19-cv-07693, United States District Court Central District of California,
    COMPLAINT FOR EXONERATION FROM OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY


    In the Matter of the Complaint of Truth Aquatics, Inc. and Glen Richard Fritzler and Dana Jeanne Fritzler, individually and as Trustees of the Fritzler Family Trust DTD 7/27/92 as owners and/or owners pro hac vice of the dive vessel CONCEPTION, Official Number 638133, for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability

    Truth Aquatics is broadly seeking,

    "... exoneration from or limitation of liability as provided by 46 U.S.C. § 30501 et seq. and is a case of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, as hereinafter more fully appears, and is within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1333, Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rule F, Supplemental Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure."

    Truth Aquatics allege, in part

    At all relevant times, Plaintiffs used reasonable care to make the CONCEPTION seaworthy, and she was, at all relevant times, tight, staunch, and strong, fully and properly manned, equipped and supplied and in all respects seaworthy and fit for the service in which she was engaged.

    Truth Aquatics presents an Ex Parte application to the court, seeking

    • APPROVAL OF STIPULATION FOR VALUE AND COSTS
    • ORDER RESTRAINING ALL SUITS AND DIRECTING MONITION TO ISSUE
    • ORDER DIRECTING EXECUTION OF MONITION AND PUBLICATION OF NOTICE
    Suggested Reading
    Article III
    • SUBTITLE III - Maritime Liability (§§ 30101 to 31343)
    • The Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. §30501 et seq
    • Benedict on Admiralty: Limitation of Liability
    • Langnes v. Green, 282 US 531 - Supreme Court 1931
    • Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. of Hartford v. Southern Pac. Co., 273 U.S. 207, 214 (1927)
    • Lewis v Lewis & Clark marine, Inc. 531 U.S. 438,442 (2001)
    • Beiswenger Enters. Corp.v.Carleta, 86F.3d1032,1037 (11thCir.1996)
    • Louisiana Department of Highways v. Jahncke Service, 174 F.2d 894 (5th Cir. 1949)
    • Sisson v. Ruly, 497 U.S. 358 (1990)
    • Paradise Holdings, 795 F.2d 756 (1986)


    Attorneys for Plaintiff – Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP.

    Brown likely wears the big boy pants. He has the education and experience. Perhaps Kuhne is his heir apparent, given Brown’s age.


    The Court and local Admiralty Rules


    Oft discussed on this board are suggestions that frivolous lawsuits are rampant – perhaps there are some jurisdictions where this occurs. Most such suits are one-offs, and such plaintiffs can find the consequences of their actions harsh.

    However, this is federal court and I doubt you will see such filings in this case. If there are, I suggest that the judge will make short work of any such pleadings.

    Well, what happens next? Lots of paper will fly. Perhaps a third-party will be added to the proceedings – the boat manufacturer, the designer of an overhaul to the boat? Questions about the seaworthiness of the boat will come to the fore. The escape hatch discussion will make for an interesting read.

    And perhaps, at some point down the road, the court will sit in admiralty, signified by the flying of the gold-fringed Admiralty Flag. A great “Concursus” will occur. The proceeding will be before the judge, no jury trial is allowed on the limited issues to be decided.

    As Chief Justice Taft wrote

    [T]he great object of the statute was to encourage shipbuilding and to induce the investment of money in this branch of industry by limiting the venture of those who build the ships to the loss of the ship itself or her freight then pending, in cases of damage or wrong happening, without the privity, or knowledge of the shipowner, and by the fault or neglect of the master or other persons on board. . . .

    Bonus – what unique distinction did Judge Taft hold?

    I suspect that the unfortunate passengers knew little of admiralty law and the limitations act, when they booked their passage on the ill fated three-day trip.



     

    Attached Files:

  2. ChrisM

    ChrisM Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    1,392
    296
    83
    You are right on one thing (probably many). Federal judges do not suffer fools gladly and put up with no BS whatsoever.
     
    ReadyDiverOne likes this.
  3. Cert1967

    Cert1967 Let's Go Skiing

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Vail, Colorado
    241
    155
    43
    Docs 9-15 set the stage for Judge Percy Anderson's order - Filed 09/11/19

    Doc16, ORDER RESTRAINING ALL SUITS AND DIRECTING MONITION TO ISSUE

    Highlights

    IT IS ORDERED that the institution or prosecution of any and all suits, actions or legal proceedings of any nature and description whatsoever, against PLAINTIFFS, or the CONCEPTION, or any property of PLAINTIFFS, whether presently ongoing, filed but unknown, or to be filed in the future, except in this proceeding, with respect to any claims for death, injuries, property loss, or damages, arising out of, resulting from, or in any manner connected with the fire on September 2, 2019, aboard the CONCEPTION which the Complaint in this action seeks exoneration from, or limitation of liability, be, and the same hereby are, stayed and restrained until the hearing and determination of this proceeding;

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a monition issue out of and under the seal of this Court to all persons and entities asserting any claim with respect to that which the Complaint in this action seeks exoneration from, or limitation of, liability, admonishing them to file their respective claims with the Clerk of this Court at the United States Courthouse, in writing and under oath, and to serve a copy thereof on the attorneys for PLAINTIFFS, on or before the July 1, 2020, or be deemed in contumacy and default;

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that public notice of the monition and this action be published, by PLAINTIFFS, in The Los Angeles Times, a newspaper of general circulation printed and published in Los Angeles County, California, once in each week for four (4) successive weeks beginning no later than October 10, 2019.

    In issuing the requested orders at this preliminary stage, the Court makes no determination as to the merits of PLAINTIFFS’ efforts to limit their liability pursuant to 46 U.S.C. § 30505.

    ***************

    Definition of MONITION
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    23,892
    33,587
    113
    What does this mean for the undereducated among us? Layman terms?

    Sorry, I understood the initial filing, but not the order.
     
    danddmiller1 likes this.
  5. ChrisM

    ChrisM Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    1,392
    296
    83
    Basically a notice to all potential claimants that this court has jurisdiction, all other claims stayed or abated, and that they have to file a notice of claim by July 2020.
     
    Ayisha and Wookie like this.
  6. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    23,892
    33,587
    113
    10 months doesn't seem like a lot of time. I thought 3 years was the usual time limit to file?
     
  7. ChrisM

    ChrisM Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    1,392
    296
    83
    This isn't a typical statute of limitations issue (and it would be 2 years in California). One of the benefits of this law to mariners is that it accelerates the process.

    However, although I don't practice in this area, I do not think they need to justify their claim by 7/20, just file it, which will be a bare bones statement "X was on the boat, TA was negligent causing fire and/or failing to have a watch would have prevented it, and X killed as a result"
     
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  8. Cert1967

    Cert1967 Let's Go Skiing

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Vail, Colorado
    241
    155
    43
    PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that Respondent/Counter Claimant CHRISTINE ALEXANDRA DIGNAM, acting in her capacity as the specially appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of JUSTIN CARROLL DIGNAM (Deceased)

    <<<>>>

    At all times material hereto, Petitioners, and each of them, acting individually and by and through their managing agents, violated that duty of care and acted in reckless disregard for the safety and health of DECEDENT and his fellow passengers in that, among other things:

    a. They failed to exercise even scant care to equip the CONCEPTION with an electrical system that was safe, suitable, and reasonably fit for its intended use;

    b. They failed to exercise even scant care to equip the CONCEPTION with a fire-detection system that was safe, suitable, and reasonably fit for its intended use;

    c. They failed to exercise even scant care to equip the CONCEPTION with fire-fighting equipment that was safe, suitable, and reasonably fit for its intended purpose;

    d. They failed to exercise even scant care to equip the CONCEPTION’s below-decks passenger accommodations with emergency exits that were safe, suitable, properly designed, and sufficient in size and number, and;

    e. They ignored a manifest duty and failed to maintain a proper watch aboard the CONCEPTION on the morning of the accident, in violation of the black-letter provisions of 46 CFR § 185.410 and the requirements of the CONCEPTION’S vessel’s Certificate of Inspection.


    <<<>>>
     

    Attached Files:

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