Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners

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Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners
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The wreckage of the Conception dive boat was lifted off the ocean floor on Sept 12 for further investigation. (Photo of KTLA footage)

By edhat staff

A crew member who survived the deadly Conception boat fire on Labor Day is now suing the boat's owners.

The diving boat caught fire off Santa Cruz Island on September 2 and killed 34 passengers who were asleep below deck. Five crew members survived by jumping off the boat.

Ryan Sims filed a lawsuit of September 12 alleging the Conception's owners were negligent in their failure to properly train crew members, give adequate safety and medical equipment and provide safety rules, among other claims, reports The Los Angeles Times.

The lawsuit was filed in Ventura County listing Truth Aquatics Inc., the company that owned the Conception boat; Glen Fritzler, the owner of Truth Aquatics; and Worldwide Diving Adventures, the company who chartered Conception for the weekend; as defendants. 

Sims was awakened by loud noises and realized a fire had broken out on the boat and was spreading fast. In an effort to escape, he jumped from the top deck breaking his leg in three places and injuring his back and neck, the lawsuit states.

Sims is seeking punitive damages as well as attorney fees and medical costs from his injuries.

Truth Aquatics filed a lawsuit to potentially limit their liability on September 5 in U.S. District Court of Los Angeles claiming it was not liable for any damages from the victims' families because the vessel was seaworthy when it caught fire.

Owners Glen and Dana Fritzler are named as plaintiffs in the filing which states, "At all relevant times, Plaintiffs used reasonable care to make the CONCEPTION seaworthy, and she was, at all relevant times, tight, staunch, and strong, fully and properly manned, equipped and supplied and in all respects seaworthy and fit for the service in which she was engaged."

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report on September 12 stating all six crew members were asleep at the time of the fire. Five of the crew members were on the top deck when one of the crew woke up due to a noise and saw fire had engulfed the salon below.

He then alerted the rest of the crew where they made numerous attempts to reach the passengers below deck but were unable to due to the fire. Crew members were forced to jump overboard and contacted a nearby vessel to call for help, according to crew statements recorded in the NTSB report.

The 33 passengers and 1 crew member died from smoke inhalation, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Coroner. 

The U.S. Coast Guard and NTSB recovered the wreckage of the Conception boat on September 12 and continue their investigation. Criminal charges have not been filed but the U.S. Coast Guard issued an advisory warning boat operators to review their emergency equipment and procedures and pointed to potential fire hazards posed by lithium-ion batteries left to charge.

The final NTSB report will not be available for 12-18 months where a cause of the fire will be determined.

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a-1571502063 Sep 20, 2019 03:19 PM
Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners

YETI, as an attorney, I can tell you did something very wrong and were held accountable (liable) for it and instead of learning, you blame the attorney. While there are ambulance chasers out there, many litigators do important work, protecting people's rights, fighting for people and the like. What you think b/c an attorney does estate and contract work only they are the only nice ones? Some of those are the worst gougers out there! So, if you ever need an attorney, please don't call our office. Thanks.

Alexblue Sep 20, 2019 11:55 AM
Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners

Oh, yes, all the hordes of attorneys killing it on the PI and ADA side of the business because that's such easy money. Not. I'm sure you understand my point; there are lots and lots of attorneys protecting the financial interests of their clients, protecting your rights as a citizen, holding polluters accountable, etc., etc., etc., etc., but the attorney representing the poor bastard from he Conception disaster is thriving on carnage. Oooookay. What's the guy supposed to do? Represent himself in court? Negotiate a settlement on his own behalf? Come on.

Alexblue Sep 20, 2019 11:56 AM
Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners

Oh, yes, all the hordes of attorneys killing it on the PI and ADA side of the business because that's such easy money. Not. I'm sure you understand my point; there are lots and lots of attorneys protecting the financial interests of their clients, protecting your rights as a citizen, holding polluters accountable, etc., etc., etc., etc., but the attorney representing the poor bastard from he Conception disaster is thriving on carnage. Oooookay. What's the guy supposed to do? Represent himself in court? Negotiate a settlement on his own behalf? Come on.

Yeti Sep 20, 2019 10:38 AM
Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners

Very cute Alex, but the reality is that the average attorney in California earns LESS than $50,000 per year, due to the oversupply of young attorneys coming out of college hoping to make a fortune. As a result, this oversupply that is having a hard time surviving financially , focuses their attention on personal injury cases, ADA attacks of business owners/landlords and flinging a lot of stuff at the wall hoping that it will stick. This is a financial drain on our society and just raises the cost of doing business as a result. Members of society end up paying a lot more for insurance and for services and goods as a result. It is classic Econ 101 example. It is not a surprise that most politicians are attorneys and just look how screwed up our system is as a result. All walking around trying to figure out how to extort more money from lobbyists . I do know some very nice attorneys that perform important functions like estate planning and contract law.. but you can not deny the facts as stated above.

Alexblue Sep 20, 2019 08:04 AM
Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners

Yeti, as a Paleolithic mountain creature you may not understand how we modern humans organize our societies. Yes, in your world, when another Yeti wrongs you, you grab the nearest stick or rock and beat them up. Maybe you bring your Yeti family along and meet their Yeti family behind the 7-11 and duke it out to settle who is wrong and who is right. In our modern world, we have courts and sworn peace officers so that things can be settled without violence and its associated cost to society. We also have lawyers, who represent other humans in courts so that they get a fair hearing before an impartial judge or jury. So, Yeti, here is the lesson today--you may find it amusing to vilify lawyers--maybe you committed a crime or had an ugly divorce, but without lawyers there can be no courts system and without the courts we would have a bunch of neanderthals roaming the streets dispensing justice as they see fit. Not to say there aren't unethical lawyers, just like there are unethical cops, and cooks, and scientists, and contractors, but to denigrate profession is to show a fundamental misunderstanding of how our society can function as well as it does. You've had your lesson, Yeti, now go play in the snow.

a-1571502063 Sep 19, 2019 11:26 AM
Conception Crew Member Suing Boat Owners

Not sure how this equates to a 'feeding frenzy'. The guy is obviously physically messed up as a result of this accident, was first awake, tried to help as best he could and is now probably traumatized for life because of this. Yeah, feeding frenzy it is. Lame comment, Yeti. Lame.

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