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February 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Yes, the Dive Gear Caused His Death

but no, his sister can’t sue the manufacturer

from the February, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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A woman who watched in horror as her brother died while they were diving, and learned later that his diving gear was defective, can't sue the manufacturer because she wasn't aware of the defect at the time. So said a California state appeals court on January 10 in the matter of Fortman v. Forvaltingsbolaget Insulan AB.

Barbara Fortman, a resident of Redlands, CA, and her brother, Robert Myers, who was visiting from Chicago, were diving off Catalina Island in March 2009. Myers was wearing a Catalyst 360 drysuit, which came equipped with a low-pressure hose that incorporated a small plastic flow-restriction insert. Both the hose and the insert were manufactured by Forvaltingsbolaget Insulan AB, a Swedish company that does business in the U.S. under the name SI Tech.

A few minutes into the dive, Myers signaled to Fortman that he wanted to ascend. Fortman put her hand on her brother's arm when they began their ascent but she realized that, despite kicking, they were no longer ascending. Fortman stopped kicking, and they sank to the ocean floor, where Myers landed on his back. His eyes were wide open but he was unresponsive....

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