First Civil Suit Filed in ‘Conception’ Disaster

Crewmember Ryan Sims Sues for Negligence

Conception crewmember Ryan Sims filed suit against his employers in Ventura Superior Court on September 12, alleging negligence in training, safety, and maintenance in the tragic Labor Day fire that took 34 lives. Sims broke his leg and suffered injuries to his back while escaping from the fire, according to the lawsuit, which names boat owners Truth Aquatics and Glen Fritzler, and Worldwide Diving Adventures, which booked the trip.

Just four days after the disaster, Fritzler filed for protection under an 1851 maritime law that limits liability to the value of the ship, which burned to the waterline off the north coast of Santa Cruz Island, which sits in Santa Barbara County waters. The hulk is in dry dock in Pt. Hueneme while the cause of the fire is investigated.

Sims has retained attorney Roland Christensen of Houston’s Arnold & Itkin, a firm with expertise in maritime law and claims of “record-setting” millions in settlements at its website. The Fritzlers are represented by Russell P. Brown of Gordon & Rees Scully Mansukhani in San Diego, who heads up the firm’s national maritime practice. 


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