$5 million awarded to elderly parents when scuba diver dies due to defective equipment. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Scuba diver dies off Catalina Island when breathing apparatus fails; diver had pre-existing heart condition. Defense offered $93K, but jury awards $5 million to decedent's elderly parents.

The Case

  • Case Name: Horace Myers, Joanne Myers v. Förvaltningsobolaget Insulan AB dba Si Tech
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court South District/ NC043612
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, January 31, 2013
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, July 06, 2010
  • Type of Action: Products Liability, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Roy L. Paul
  • Plaintiffs:
    Horace and Joanne Myers, parents of 50-year-old decedent
  • Defendants:
    Förvaltningsobolaget Insulan AB dba Si Tech
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $5,000,000
  • Economic Damages:

    None.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $5,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 14 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on both strict product liability and negligence.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Grassini & Wrinkle by John M. Raders, Woodland Hills
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Michele Nelson Bass, Aspen, CO (trial counsel); Lesser & Associates, PLC, by Richard A. Lesser and Steven M. McGuire, Redondo Beach
  • Attorney for the Defendant:

     

     

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Jay N. Schapira, M.D., cardiology, Los Angeles
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Daniel G. Blanchard, M.D., cardiology, San Diego
    Tom Neuman, M.D., hyperbaric medicine, San Diego
  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

     

     

  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Ian Morrison, mechanical engineering, Signal Hill
    Jon J. Smith, pathology and autopsy protocol, Ojai
  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

     

     

  • Defendant's Technical Experts:
    Bill N. Oliver, engineering, Escondido
    Craig Nelson, M.D.,pathology and autopsy protocol
  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

     



Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiffs' decedent son, Robert Myers, age 50, died while scuba diving off Casino Point in Catalina on March 6, 2009. At the time of the fatal dive, Mr. Myers was wearing a dry-suit hose manufactured by defendant Forvaltningsobolaget Insulan AB d/b/a Si Tech. This action for wrongful death ensued. Plaintiffs are the 87-year-old parents of Mr. Myers, who died single and without children.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs contended that their son died as a result of the admitted defect in defendant's breathing apparatus.  Plaintiffs acknowledged that their son had pre-existing coronary artery disease which was determined by autopsy.

    Plaintiffs, while disputing the nature and extent of the coronary artery disease, contended that their son’s undisclosed medical condition made him susceptible to cardiac arrhythmia prompted by the failure of the breathing apparatus, which in turn resulted in his death.

    The lead investigator for dive fatalities for Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Sheriff’s detective David Carver, testified that following the fatal accident, the Si Tech flow restriction orifice was found in the second stage of the Scuba Pro regulator purchased by the decedent. He testified that he then dove with the decedent’s equipment within a week of the fatal dive, and that doing so was akin to “breathing through a straw.” Detective Carver opined that the breathing device would not sustain life at the depth encountered by the decedent.

    Plaintiffs also disputed defendant's contention that their son knowingly concealed any heart-related problem on medical questionnaires completed for scuba dive classes.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    At trial, defendant company Si Tech admitted that its product was defective but disputed causation and contended that its product, though defective, did not fail on this dive.

    Defendant contended that decedent's death resulted from sudden cardiac arrest due to pre-existing coronary artery disease unrelated to their product. Si Tech presented videos of three of its four experts successfully diving with the decedent’s actual equipment to depths equal to or greater than those during the fatal dive, without incident. A similar video made by the dive shop owner who sold the equipment to the decedent in Chicago, using exemplar equipment, was also shown.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Loss of consortium for wrongful death of 50-year-old son.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $5,000,000.00 mediation on 2/21/12.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $93,192.57 per plaintiff by §998 on 12/21/11.

Additional Notes

In closing argument, plaintiffs requested an award of exactly $5,000,000.00 divided equally between the parents.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

© Copyright 2021 by Neubauer & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. www.juryverdictalert.com