A scuba diver abandoned off the coast of Newport Beach for four hours in 2004 can go forward with a $4-million lawsuit against the trip`s organizers, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ruled.
Dan Carlock of Santa Monica was 46 when he signed up for the dive organized by Ocean Adventures Dive Co. aboard a boat operated by Sun Diver Charters LLC of Huntington Beach.
About 12 miles off the coast, according to Carlock`s lawsuit, he got separated from his dive buddy and was left behind; the boat`s crew didn`t report him missing until after a second dive at a different site.
Eventually, Carlock was rescued by a passing group of Boy Scouts and Sea Scouts on another boat, but not, his lawsuit contends, before suffering "substantial losses, including anguish and shock, embarrassment, humiliation" and skin cancer resulting from exposure to the sun.
Lawyers representing Sun Diver Charters and Ocean Adventures, at whom the lawsuit is aimed, had moved that the judge issue a summary judgment against Carlock on the grounds that, by participating in the dive, he had assumed certain risks -- thereby waiving his right to hold the operators responsible.
Judge Edward A. Ferns disagreed, however, ruling in a decision announced Wednesday that being abandoned at sea is not a risk inherent in the sport.
"Mr. Carlock is elated that the court has applied the law in the meticulous way that it did so as to provide protection for tens of thousands of recreational scuba divers throughout California and the nation," his lawyer, Scott P. Koepke, said Wednesday.
Stephen Hewitt, an attorney representing Ocean Adventures, expressed disappointment.
"All the defendants are united [in their opinion] that this is really an unfortunate accident," he said, "but it`s a risk associated with boat diving and scuba diving."
The case is scheduled for trial June 9.