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April 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Suunto/Aqualung Computer Lawsuit Continues

from the April, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

One could be forgiven for thinking the lawsuit Ralph A. Huntzinger initiated in 2016 against Aqualung and Suunto was frivolous. You see, he had purchased a Suunto Cobra computer, but had never suffered any harm using it (he added a second plaintiff, Eric Bush, who also had not suffered harm). Nonetheless, in his suit he said that he had come to learn that both Suunto and Aqualung (the Suunto distributor in the U.S. at that time) had knowledge that their computers were "defective and prone to malfunction, resulting in the dive computers providing inaccurate information regarding data such as dive depth, dive time, tank air pressure and remaining air time."

Huntzinger and Bush claimed that the "defendants received dive computers for repair from [other] consumers who experienced permanent malfunction due to defective software and/or hardware ... If the computer is within warranty, the defective computer is replaced with a new computer ... the defective software/hardware is unrepairable."

The plaintiffs alleged that they would not have purchased or used these dive computers had they known that they were "unsafe and unfit for their intended use."

They brought the action on behalf of themselves and all others who purchased any Suunto dive computer available at that time, alleging that each contained the same software and hardware that operates the computer's critical functions.

Suunto tried to dismiss the suit, contending that the plaintiffs had not sustained an injury and that Huntzinger's belief that he cannot rely on his Cobra computer is nothing more than a hypothetical injury that may only happen if his device ever malfunctions.

The U.S. District Court in California didn't buy that argument, and in January upheld their right to pursue the case.

So, we asked Tim Blood, Huntzinger's California lawyer, what the plaintiffs were seeking. He replied that, "The lawsuit seeks a number of different forms of relief. It seeks refunds on behalf of all purchasers and an injunction requiring the defendants to warn all users of the problems with the dive computers to ensure no one relies on them."

A judgment in favor of the plaintiffs could have serious ramifications for the diving industry. Not only would it affect a whole raft of Suunto diving computers, but also presumably those of Mares, Cressi, Atomic and others that have used a Wienke RGBM algorithm.

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