$5 million awarded to elderly parents when scuba diver dies due to defective equipment. Los Angeles County.
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.
- 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: Friday, February 01, 2013
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, July 07, 2010
- Type of Case: 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
- Gross Verdict or Award: $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.
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:
Plaintiff’s Medical Experts: Jay N. Schapira, M.D., cardiology, Los Angeles
Defendant's Medical Experts: Daniel G. Blanchard, M.D., cardiology, San DiegoTom Neuman, M.D., hyperbaric medicine, San Diego
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Plaintiff's Technical Experts: Ian Morrison, mechanical engineering, Signal HillJon J. Smith, pathology and autopsy protocol, Ojai
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Defendant's Technical Experts: Bill N. Oliver, engineering, EscondidoCraig 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.
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.
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.
In closing argument, plaintiffs requested an award of exactly $5,000,000.00 divided equally between the parents.