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January 2006 Vol. 21, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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from the January, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In Santa Barbara, CA, Faramarz Bolour of Santa Maria, California, said he bought a buoyancy compensator with a Sea Quest Air Source, a power inflator manufactured by Aqua Lung. Bolour said the power inflator malfunctioned during a dive off nearby Refugio Beach, causing him to surface rapidly and suffer an embolism. He sued Aqua Lung and Santa Barbara Aquatics, where he said he bought the BCD, claiming to have suffered permanent physical and neurological injuries that impaired his earning capacity and damaged his relationship with his wife. He claimed negligence, product liability, and breach of warranty.

Aqua Lung said Bolour fabricated his claims. It contended that Bolours story about purchasing the Aqua Lung product was a lie, that photographs he claimed to have taken before the accident had been tampered with, that the Aqua Lung product did not malfunction and that Bolour did not suffer a diving injury. To avoid trial, Aqua Lung offered $10,000, which Bolour rejected, instead demanding $ 3,000,000.

Eight expert witnesses testified for Bolour: six doctors addressed Bolours alleged physical and neurological injuries, an engineer addressed the alleged defects in the Aqua Lung product, and a scuba diving expert testified on diving procedures and equipment. Nine experts testified for Aqua Lung: a physician certified in emergency and dive medicine, a mechanical engineer, an engineer designer of dive equipment, two neurologists, a physician certified in nuclear medicine, a neuropsychologist, a photography expert and an expert on scuba diving procedures. Six of them testified for Santa Barbara Aquatics.

According to the National Law Journal, after a 14-day trial, the jury found 10-2 for the defense on product defect and 11-1 for the defense on negligence. Bolour was ordered to pay court costs, including expert witness fees for both Aqua Lung and Santa Barbara Aquatics. Bouler appealed last year, but the original decision was upheld, with Balour ordered to pay Aqua Lungs costs of $98,000 and $65,000 to Santa Barbara Aquatics a stiff sum considering he could have walked with $10,000.

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