On March 6, 2009, Decedent Robert Myers, age 50, passed away while scuba diving off Casino Point in Catalina with his sister. For the dive, Myers wore a dry-suit hose manufactured by Defendant Förvaltningsobolaget Insulan AB, doing business as Si Tech, which contained a small plastic insert called a “flow restriction device.” During his dive, an orifice became dislodged from the air hose, causing a blockage in Myers’ breathing apparatus. As a result, Myers suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died.
Decedent’s 87-year-old parents and sister brought a lawsuit against Defendant, alleging product defects and negligent failure to warn. In support of these allegations, Plaintiffs presented the opinion of an engineering expert who testified that the malfunction of the dry-suit hose would have restricted Decedent’s breathing by 85% to 92%. Another expert dove with the same equipment used by Decedent and testified that breathing through the equipment was akin to “breathing through a straw.” The expert testified that, at the depths Decedent reached during the dive, the equipment would not have provided Decedent with enough air to sustain his life.
Defendant admitted knowing there was a defect in the equipment, however, blamed the death on Decedent’s preexisting coronary artery disease. Defense counsel argued that Decedent failed to disclose his condition on a medical questionnaire, and therefore knowingly concealed his condition from diving instructors. Defense counsel also presented video evidence demonstrating three of Defendant’s experts successfully diving with the equipment to depths equal or greater than those reached by Decedent.
While Plaintiffs acknowledged the Decedent’s pre-existing coronary artery disease, they vehemently denied Defendant’s allegations that Decedent concealed such information from the diving instructors. Plaintiffs argued that Decedent’s condition made him more susceptible to cardiac arrhythmia, which was triggered by the defective breathing equipment and led to his death.
The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Plaintiffs for $5 million on both the product liability and negligence claims.
COURT: Superior Court of Los Angeles County, CA
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