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Legal Expert Says Titan Submersible Victims' Families Could Sue OceanGate Despite Liability Waiver

Why The Families Of Titan Sub Victims Could Still Sue OceanGate Despite Liability Waiver

OceanGate could still face some legal trouble following the catastrophic implosion of the Titan submersible – even though the now-deceased passengers signed waivers.

Ever since the news broke that the sub went missing, there has been a lot of talk about the liability waivers the five voyagers signed before boarding the vessel to head to the Titanic shipwreck on Sunday. CBS journalist David Pogue revealed he went aboard the Titan last summer, noting that he was required to sign a waiver beforehand that was “quite clear about all the ways that you could be permanently disabled, emotionally traumatized or killed.” He added:

“The waiver says ‘This vessel has not been inspected or certified by any government body. So you know very well that it is a one of a kind vessel.”

But what does signing this waiver mean? On Friday, TMZ obtained a copy of the waiver used last summer that allegedly made voyagers “assume full responsibility for all risks of property damage, injury, disability, and death” – which basically protects OceanGate from any lawsuits.

Related: Las Vegas Investor & Son Gave Up Seats On Doomed Titan Sub Trip Over ‘Safety Concerns’

However, trial attorney and former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani believes the victims’ families potentially have a case. Why? Because he explained to People that the waiver doesn’t protect OceanGate from all types of legal actions after the passengers’ deaths, including gross negligence:

“You can only waive a simple negligence. By law, you can’t waive gross negligence. So this is above and beyond, you know. So, whatever waiver they signed … You can waive known risks, but you can’t waive something more than that, which again, I’m certainly no expert in these types of vessels, but this seems like something more than simple negligence.”

For days now, details have come out about the safety concerns of the Titan vessel. A former employee of OceanGate, David Lochridge, allegedly voiced his worries about the safety of the submersible. Rather than taking his concerns seriously, the company fired and sued him. Others have also come forward about the issues with the sub, including The Simpsons writer and producer Mike Reiss. He claimed to go on four expeditions with the company in the past, and they lost communication with their surface ship each time. Scary…

OceanGate Expeditions co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein has been defending the safety of the submersible. But it turned out that CEO Stockton Rush – one of the five men who died in the implosion – previously admitted to YouTuber Alan Estrada in 2021 to breaking some rules when building the vessel. How so? The Titan’s hull was made from aerospace-grade carbon fiber, but submersible hulls are normally made with steel or titanium.

Although Stockton bragged about it being “innovation,” James Cameron thinks this “flawed idea” cost the CEO and the four other passengers Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet their lives. As the Titanic director and deep-sea diver stated to Reuters that the carbon fiber would get weaker and damaged over time:

“And so we all knew that the danger was delamination and progressive failure over time with microscopic water ingress and … what they call cycling fatigue. And we knew if the sub passed its pressure test it wasn’t gonna fail on its first dive … but it’s going to fail over time, which is insidious. You don’t get that with steel or titanium.”

With all of this in mind, Neama ultimately believes a civil lawsuit is “100 percent certain,” adding:

“The civil lawsuit is pretty much absolute certainty.”

Criminal liability is a “bigger question,” according to Neama. But given the passengers’ high-profile status, the lawyer “wouldn’t be surprised if there was a criminal prosecution of people who were responsible for this.”

We’ll have to see what comes next. But it sounds like OceanGate could face some trouble if the Titan victims’ families decide to take legal action, especially in light of past safety concerns. Thoughts, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments below.

[Image via OceanGate/YouTube]

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Jun 24, 2023 08:23am PDT