Dive Professionals Be Aware [Beware!]
[This article is based on an actual event]
Your worst nightmare as a dive professional is about to hit you and you’re not even in the water!
You’re just sitting at home on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, watching your favorite NFL team on TV,
when the doorbell rings. You open the door to find a gentlemen standing there, he introduces himself
as an officer of the court, next he reads your name off a clipboard and asks if you’re that person.
You say yes, that’s me! He then hands you a large envelope and says you’ve just been served a summons
to appear in court.
As he walks away, you stand there totally stunned, heart pounding, staring down at that envelope having
no idea what this is all about! You’re thinking that they MUST have the wrong person, why would they
want you to appear in court? You haven’t done anything to warrant this! [No pun intended]
So you tear it open, pull out the stack of papers, and find your answer ‘why’ on the first page. You
discover that you’ve been named as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. Oh my God, WRONGFUL DEATH!
You’re wondering who died and how are you linked to this? You look at the name of the plaintiff, it
says: “The family of Joe Diver” [Name obviously changed to protect EVERYBODY!]. The name “Joe Diver”
seems vaguely familiar, then it suddenly comes to you, he and his wife were students in one of your
open water certification courses a few months ago!
Another wave of shock hits you, not only has somebody died that you know, you are somehow being blamed
for it! But how can this be, you weren’t even there when it happened. You’re assuming it must have
happened while he was diving, but you truly have no idea what’s going on here!
You continue to read through the document, you notice that you’re not the only one named in this suit:
the dive shop, dive boat, and certification agency are also listed, as are all the certified assistants
who helped during this diver’s training and certification dives.
There must be something in this document giving an account of what actually happened, but to your dismay,
no details or facts about the accident are offered. What are included are statements like: “The careless,
reckless, negligent acts, omissions, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance carried out by each and
every Defendant named …blah …blah …blah.” And: “The negligent, wanton, willful, careless and reckless
conduct of the Defendants …blah …blah …blah.” There are more accusational and inflammatory statements,
but no real information about what happened to “Joe Diver”. [There’s a reason why no actual facts are
included, but we’ll get into that later]
One blaring statement suddenly catches your attention, in bold print you see: “YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED to
appear and defend, within 20 days after the service of this Summons and Complaint.”
20 DAYS!!! …You only have 20 DAYS to appear in court and defend! What was shock has now turned into full
blown panic! …What do you do now? …Who do you call? …you need help with this right this second!
[To be continued in part II]