The charges have been brought under a 19th-century law aimed at holding sea captains and crew responsible for maritime disasters to account. The families of all but one of the Conception victims have filed legal claims against Truth Aquatics and its owners Glen & Dana Fritzler, who have also turned to an old maritime law to limit their liability.
***** MEANWHILE in the US commonwealth island of Saipan in the Pacific, the US District Court for the North Marianas Islands has dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Madelyn Jones, the widow of US diver John Jones.
Details of Jones’ fatal dive as outlined in the lawsuit were reported on DIVERNET in February. The dismissal of the action is understood to have followed a settlement agreed between the parties involved and was delivered “with prejudice”, which means that the suit cannot be brought again.
Jones had been sent by the US Federal Aviation Administration to help rebuild Saipan’s international airport after it suffered typhoon damage. He and a fellow-employee had taken a day off on 18 November, 2018 and booked a dive with two local diving instructors.
According to the lawsuit, neither instructor had asked Jones about his diving experience, warned him about the potential difficulty of the overhead-environment 30m-plus dive at the Grotto site, or obtained his consent to it.
Jones had subsequently run low on air and gone missing. A full-scale six-day search had proved unsuccessful, and he was officially declared dead the following March.
The suit had been brought against instructor Harry Blalock, owner of local dive-centre Axe Murderer Tours; Joe McDoulett, an instructor from the Green Flash dive-centre; and training agency PADI Worldwide and PADI Americas. The defendants had been accused of negligence, wrongful death, breach of the US Consumer Protection Act and, in PADI’s case, vicarious liability, all of which they denied.
Madelyn Jones had been asking for US $75,000 in damages plus costs. The parties must now pay their own legal costs, and the court retains jurisdiction to enforce their agreement.