Bandito lawsuit?

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Grateful Diver
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Bandito lawsuit?

Post by Grateful Diver » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:20 am

I read a story in the News Tribune this morning about a lawsuit against Bandito Charters, based on a diving accident that happened in 2011. Hadn't heard much about the accident when it happened, and wondering if anybody knows any more than was in the story.

According to the story, the guy who died was relatively inexperienced ... 23 dives, all in warm water ... and was with a dive shop from Oregon. The lawsuit is based on claims that the diver panicked when he jumped off the boat and sank in 52 feet of water ... and that a later analysis found carbon monoxide in his tank.

At any rate, I wish Rick all the best ... getting sued has gotta suck ...

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by spatman » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:23 am

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fmerkel
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by fmerkel » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:22 am

3 years later....suing almost everyone in sight. Really sad for everyone.
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CaptnJack
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by CaptnJack » Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:10 am

fmerkel wrote:3 years later....suing almost everyone in sight. Really sad for everyone.

The statute of limitations in WA for wrongful death is 3 yrs I believe.

If anyone knows of a case where the "standard of care" for a diver in distress is defined I'd love to see it. Honestly I probably would have done something similar since a CO contamination issue would not be my first inclination when a new diver is in distress immediately after entry. On the other hand, on my (non-charter, not for hire) boat when I take someone new/green I try to gear them up, but then I get in first so if they have an issue I am already in the water.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by oldsalt » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:38 pm

I'm pulling for Rick. He runs a good boat. I don't know if there is an industry standard. My charter boat dives have gone from one extreme to another:
- A boat captain and a deck hand staying on the boat and two staff divers in the water to guide.
- A boat captain and a deckhand/divemaster who entered the water with the divers.
- A boat captain and deckhand, divers were on their own.
- A boat captain who ran the boat by himself, divers were on their own.
- A boat captain who dived with the divers, leaving the boat untended.
When I sat for my captain's license (years ago) I read through the CFR's to see what they said about dive charters. I found very little. In reading some of the case law, I found it contradictory. One captain jumped in the water to rescue a struggling diver and was cited for leaving his vessel while in command. The ruling in this case was that, as captain, he was responsible for the people on board. Once they voluntarily left the vessel, they were no longer his responsibility. Another captain was found at fault for not entering the water to rescue a distressed diver. In this case they considered the diver the same as a man overboard. In my event, my dive buddies, not the charter crew, pulled me out of the water and administered CPR. I am grateful to have survived and have no interest in bringing suit against anyone. The risks associated with SCUBA are readily apparent to anyone who participates. Again, I hope Rick gets out of this okay. Watching someone die is bad enough.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by johndo88 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:56 am

So how does one get CO into their tank if it's filled at a shop. I'm assuming that Steve's Scuba had the same compressor setup like I see at most dive shops; the compressor is powered by electricity (again, my assumption). Is it possible to get CO from a compressor that is NOT powered by a gas or diesel engine?

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CaptnJack
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by CaptnJack » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:04 am

Yes, via partial combustion of the compressor oil itself (happens most often due to overheating in the tropics combined with mineral based compressor oils). Or from gasoline powered vehicles idling near the intake. Diesel engines don't produce CO for all practical purposes - its a function of their compression ignition.

A few years ago I got a reading of 450ppm 20ft away from my old Ford Ranger. The standard for breathing gases is 5 or 10ppm depending on who you ask.

CO is serious business, every shop should invest in continuous CO monitoring and any vacation divers should invest in a personal CO monitor. They are about $350 now. A lot cheaper than a funeral.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by fmerkel » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:19 am

I quote from the article:
[The lawsuit, filed by attorney Jay Chock of Portland, contends Steve’s Scuba Center provided Vance with two air tanks that day, both of which contained toxic levels of carbon monoxide.]

Bold is my emphasis. If the shop had a standard electrical system I think it would be difficult to get any toxic amount of CO into the system, but I'm not a compressor guy. Hopefully there actually was an analysis of the tank in question. In addition maybe the shop would have some kind of service and test history on the compressor?

When I saw that statement I could already see the trial has begun. Cases like this are generally not about 'justice'.
They are very expensive persuasion arguments by angry survivors, either after money, or trying to make anyone that may have been a contributor to their loss share some kind of loss also. It doesn't have to make sense and often doesn't.

As Curt (oldsalt) points out there are essentially no standards for this kind of incident. The prosecution will try to prove gross negligence and throw anything he can think of at it. The defense will have to work against this. The poor jury will have to sort out some kind of truth from this legal barrage that will be thrown at them. It will be ugly for everyone.

What is often hoped for by the prosecution in this kind of suit is a settlement. The legal costs are very high and the process incredibly onerous so the defense often settles just to avoid the incredible hassle and stress. Like I said, the trial has already started and the prosecution has begun pressure. Isn't it weird? This is what you look for in a 'smart' lawyer.
Last edited by fmerkel on Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Jeremy
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by Jeremy » Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:06 am

CaptnJack wrote:Yes, via partial combustion of the compressor oil itself (happens most often due to overheating in the tropics combined with mineral based compressor oils). Or from gasoline powered vehicles idling near the intake. Diesel engines don't produce CO for all practical purposes - its a function of their compression ignition.

A few years ago I got a reading of 450ppm 20ft away from my old Ford Ranger. The standard for breathing gases is 5 or 10ppm depending on who you ask.

CO is serious business, every shop should invest in continuous CO monitoring and any vacation divers should invest in a personal CO monitor. They are about $350 now. A lot cheaper than a funeral.


Good point. I just ordered one.

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by yadayada » Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:19 pm

fmerkel wrote:I quote from the article:
[The lawsuit, filed by attorney Jay Chock of Portland, contends Steve’s Scuba Center provided Vance with two air tanks that day, both of which contained toxic levels of carbon monoxide.]

...The prosecution will try to prove gross negligence and throw anything he can think of at it. The defense will have to work against this. The poor jury will have to sort out some kind of truth from this legal barrage that will be thrown at them....


This is a civil case - there is no prosecution. there is a plaintiff (the side who claims to have been wronged) and there is a defendant. Anybody can claim to have been wronged by anyone for any reason.
The normal tactic for ambulance chasers is to aim for a quick out of court settlement, because they know that for a business a trial is a waste of time and resources and the jury a lottery or roll of dice at best.

The lawyer seems to defend big companies and it's strange that he has not named a specific individual as dive leader and and a scuba agency as defendants - suing an out of business outfit and a boat captain doesn't seem a good strategy to make a quick buck.

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by CaptnJack » Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:43 pm

fmerkel wrote:If the shop had a standard electrical system I think it would be difficult to get any toxic amount of CO into the system, but I'm not a compressor guy. Hopefully there actually was an analysis of the tank in question. In addition maybe the shop would have some kind of service and test history on the compressor?


No its actually fairly easy, gasoline powered cars are allowed up to 1.2 to 3 percent CO in their exhaust. 1 percent is 10,000 parts per million. I haven't lived in counties/zip codes requiring emissions testing for a number of years but I think most cars emit about 0.2 to 0.5% CO in their exhaust, only the real stinkers actually violate the emissions testing standards.

In any case, the standard for compressed breathing gas is 5 ppm - orders of magnitude lower. So the car doesn't have to idle very close to the intake at all to entrain enough CO to be dangerous at depth.

Since the accident happened in November I would guess any CO in the tank came from a nearby car. CO events arising from combustion of the compressor oil are more common in hotter weather. If the CO was actually to blame it would need to be higher than 5ppm in the tank to cause issues at the surface, although terrible tasting gas could lead to panic etc. CO contamination may or may not co-occur with oil and other things you can taste. CO itself is colorless and tasteless. Small amounts of CO can be removed by filters with a catalyst called monoxycon, but it has to be kept completely dry (so the filter can't be old) and not overloaded. The near percent quantities of CO in auto exhaust will overwhelm the catalyst and the dwell time in the filter is inadequate for the monoxycon to convert the CO into CO2.

Analysis of the tank in question or other tanks filled at the same time would be the only way to know. I have a friend in Canada who helps fire stations with these issues and he's seen many cases where the first few cylinders of a fill batch are fine and only after the compressor gets hot does it violate standards. Too many compressors are installed in small unventilated rooms (because they are loud) which then get too hot and this can lead to oil combustion, especially mineral based oils. The synthetics are slightly more heat tolerant.

You can read about 1 to 3 CO accidents per year (worldwide) on Scubaboard, they are getting more and more press lately. A low probability, extreme high risk issue.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by fmerkel » Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:53 pm

Acknowledged > plaintiff, not prosecution; civil case.

The case I sat on was offered all funeral expenses + $10K. Refused. They then sued for $10 million + (incredible) losses. Lost the case.
They are considering appeal. Hard to figure the motives of some people.

Re: CO issue in this case. Seems like the guy had trouble immediately and sank pretty quickly. Since it was at the surface he'd need to be breathing a pretty nasty batch to have such a rapid onset of trouble I would think. It's only when you have enough on board to overwhelm the body's ability to transport O2 that trouble begins.

Should it go to trial and that issue should it be shown to have any substance there will have a LOT of 'expert witnesses'.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by yadayada » Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:13 pm

Folks, for now the claim that the tanks had CO in them should be considered a claim, not a fact - my personal opinion at this stage is that if it had been certainty about it, it would probably have emerged (and talked about) much earlier as a result of the investigation immediately after the accident. I would also suspect that other divers or people would have had come forward with the same issue.
In any case, in the amounts that normally affect these cases, CO becomes a real issue at depth, seldom at the surface - in fact in most accidents CO is never noticed at the surface.

As suggested, in this particular case, it appears the diver had a distress situation at the surface, dropped and drowned - not necessarily the pattern of a CO hit.

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by CaptnJack » Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:44 pm

Yes that's correct, CO is rarely an issue on the surface. Which Is why (as a skipper) it would not be intuitive to suspect CO poisoning of a diver before they have even descended. There's a lot of different accusations with this lawsuit, and they aren't forming a coherent narrative of what happened.

Fundamentally, divers with C-cards are "certified to dive in conditions similar to their training". If this were the deceased first boat dive (at some point you have to have boat dive #1), then he should have articulated that to Bandito and the charter organizers and either gotten an appropriate buddy or sat out the dive.

In all honestly have never asked a charter this question myself, but I have taken people out who have minimal or zero boat diving experience and I do everything I can think of to ensure they have a positive experience. The biggest one is gearing them up on the boat, then I get in first so I am "right there" if there's a problem (lost mask, lost reg, free flowing reg, overweighted, etc.)

Knowing Bandito, their professionalism and their clientele, I don't doubt that they also strive to make sure everyone is qualified and comfortable for their dive and comes back as a repeat customer.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by selkie » Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:14 pm

The lawyer seems to defend big companies and it's strange that he has not named a specific individual as dive leader and and a scuba agency as defendants - suing an out of business outfit and a boat captain doesn't seem a good strategy to make a quick buck.[/quote]

According to the article SSI is named as a defendant.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by CaptnJack » Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:40 pm

selkie wrote:According to the article SSI is named as a defendant.


Agencies tend to settle (vs going to trial) if you threaten them with lawsuits, so claiming SSI was responsible in some way (1300 miles away from Colorado, hmmm) is a common approach.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by johndo88 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 3:18 pm

Jeremy wrote:Good point. I just ordered one.


Jeremy, which one did you end up getting?

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by Jeremy » Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:14 pm

Sensorcon, was $169

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by yadayada » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:48 pm

selkie wrote:The lawyer seems to defend big companies and it's strange that he has not named a specific individual as dive leader and and a scuba agency as defendants - suing an out of business outfit and a boat captain doesn't seem a good strategy to make a quick buck.


According to the article SSI is named as a defendant.[/quote]

my bad, i had not noticed, now it seems a more rational "let's sue the world and see who settles first" kind of approach

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by bahula03 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:11 pm

Legal arguments aside, and maybe this is just noob thinking, but from a prevention standpoint...shouldn't the guy have had enough air in his BC to keep him happily afloat while everyone else got in the water?

Jeremy wrote:Sensorcon, was $169


Would you be kind enough to share a link/source?

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by Desert Diver » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:19 pm

You would be amazed at how people forget about their BCD's.

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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by Nwbrewer » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:19 am

Desert Diver wrote:You would be amazed at how people forget about their BCD's.


And how many new OW divers are GROSSLY overweighted.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by Linedog » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:49 am

Nwbrewer wrote:
Desert Diver wrote:You would be amazed at how people forget about their BCD's.


And how many new OW divers are GROSSLY overweighted.


+1
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by CaptnJack » Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:29 am

Nwbrewer wrote:
Desert Diver wrote:You would be amazed at how people forget about their BCD's.


And how many new OW divers are GROSSLY overweighted.


Or their gas is turned off

Although even the most grossly overweighted single tank diver "should" be able to tread water with fins on. Its not that hard even with an extra 10lbs on.
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Re: Bandito lawsuit?

Post by Jeremy » Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:16 am

bahula03 wrote:Legal arguments aside, and maybe this is just noob thinking, but from a prevention standpoint...shouldn't the guy have had enough air in his BC to keep him happily afloat while everyone else got in the water?

Jeremy wrote:Sensorcon, was $169


Would you be kind enough to share a link/source?


http://sensorcon.com/products/portable- ... a-and-dive

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