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