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October 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Suunto Finally Settles Its Lawsuit

the results may benefit owners of its dive computers

from the October, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

How many divers look at a computer display without really understanding what it means? Do they usually understand the difference when a computer switches from remaining no-deco-stop time to minimum ascent time? Similarly, that diver blindly following guidance from a computer might not realize the information displayed is full of errors. Even if nothing happens to the person on his dive, the manufacturer is automatically at fault for putting that diver at risk -- and even more at fault for failing to publicly disclose the errors.

That's the premise of a class action lawsuit filed by Ralph Huntzinger, from San Diego, CA, in May 2015 against Aqua Lung America. He claimed that some Suunto dive computers it distributed in North America could malfunction, and the inaccurate information they gave could be life-threatening (we first wrote about it in our August 2015 issue). Apparently, the computer defect was so prevalent that the ordinary two-year warranty for Suunto computers was extended to five years for problems related to selfdiving, incorrect depth readings, tank pressure and temperature -- but Aqua Lung didn't publicly state that it had extended the warranty.

Huntzinger had bought a Suunto Cobra 3 from the Leisure Pro website in May 2013, but, as he said in his lawsuit, had he known it was unsafe or unfit, he would not have purchased it or used it.

Aqua Lung struck back in July 2015, filing a motion to dismiss Huntzinger's case. Their reasoning: Huntzinger never said his Cobra 3 malfunctioned, nor was it ever serviced or replaced by Aqua Lung. Because he alleged no direct injury, his complaint should have been dismissed on this basis alone.

Was this a frivolous lawsuit? After all, he'd purchased the Cobra computer but never suffered any harm using it. Suunto (its products are no longer distributed by AquaLung America) later tried to dismiss the suit, contending that Huntzinger had not sustained an injury, and his belief that he could not rely on his Cobra computer was nothing more than a hypothetical injury that might have only happened if his device ever malfunctioned.

The U.S. District Court didn't buy that argument. In December 2015, a judge in San Diego denied Aqua Lung's bid to dismiss, finding that, despite Huntzinger never experiencing problems with his own dive computer, he had standing to bring the case because he never would have bought a $700 computer if he'd known about the defects. The judge said Huntzinger had sufficiently alleged that Aqua Lung was aware of the defects but did not disclose them "while continuing to market and distribute the dive computers." He upheld the plaintiff's right to pursue the case.

Earlier this year, we asked Huntzinger's attorney, Tim Blood, partner of San Diego law firm Blood Hurst & O'Reardon, what they wanted to achieve. "The lawsuit seeks a number of different forms of relief," he wrote. "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."

Suunto finally agreed in August to a settlement that affects many of its customers. If you purchased a Suunto dive computer between 2006 and 2018, the proposed settlement provides for a free inspection, repair or replacement program to determine if your dive computer has a faulty depth pressure sensor. If it does, you can opt for a repair or a free replacement. The settlement also reimburses certain costs to qualifying customers. For a full list of models included in the settlement, and choices of action for Suunto computer owners, go to

Blood, Huntzinger's attorney, said he and his clients are very happy with the settlement. "We are the most proud of the educational and outreach aspect of the settlement. With this, class members (and divers with other brands of equipment) will be educated about the limits of dive computers, how to spot problems before they become life threatening, and, for Suunto dive computer owners, what to do when a problem is suspected."

We contacted Suunto, but the company is staying tight-lipped and didn't respond to us.

If you own a Suunto computer, take it back to a Suunto dealer for a checkup every year or two -- because the depth pressure sensor should be checked every time a qualified technician changes the battery (normally bi-annually), properly maintained units should automatically get that free inspection. Details of the current U.S. warranty for Suunto dive computers are at

Regardless of the dive computer model you own, there are a few actions you should take to ensure it runs smoothly and error-free. Because a computer's depth sensors are often blocked by a build-up of salt crystals, we recommend rinsing it in fresh water and gently scrubbing it with a toothbrush after each use.

-- John Bantin

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