Scuba Diving Organizer Sues Web Forum After Debate Over Scuba Death Liability

from the hello-section-230,-hello-streisand dept

When will companies learn? Blaine points us to a story that's now a few months old, but still worth talking about. Apparently, two years ago, there was a scuba diving accident where someone died and some others were injured. On a particular scuba diving forum,, there was a discussion about the incident. Apparently there had already been some other somewhat negative postings about the travel agency, Maldives Scuba Diving, that organized (and potentially ran) the trip, and from there the conversation spiraled. The person who owns the travel agency decided to sue just about everyone, including For ScubaBoard, it seems like this should be a quick Section 230 dismissal based on safe harbors, but the site's owner is apparently still scrounging up the money to deal with this. Also, the complaint apparently tries to get around this by claiming that commenters on the message boards are "all agents or employees of Intermedia [ScubaBoard's owner], or made the postings at issue at Intermedia's direction." That's an argument that is likely to get laughed out of court.

There may be some cases against individual posters, but the comments sound like your ordinary comment board opinion and hyperbole. At least in the quoted comments, it's difficult to see anything that's actually defamatory. Upsetting? Perhaps, but not defamatory. It sounds like something bad happened, and whether or not the operator of this company was responsible, there were plenty of better ways to respond. However, busting out the lawsuit, suing the message board itself, as well as 100 posters, just seems to reinforce the problems and bring even more attention to the accident and the concerns people have with this woman's company.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 2:36am

    I'm just curious Mike, when do you sleep? I see you posting at all hours!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 3:18am

    I believe sometime in the past you may or may not have said something bad or good about or not about me, and therefore I must sue

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), May 13th, 2010 @ 3:59am

    Wait just a gosh darned minute, are you saying that Maldives Scuba Diving sends divers to their water graves due to their unforgivable negligence? Is that what you're saying? That Maldives Scuba Diving actions have led to the death of an innocent person? Based on my subjective and utterly ignorant and highly sarcastic opinions, it would seem that divers who value their lives would avoid Maldives Scuba Diving at all costs, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 4:33am

    All of us r gonna b sued for discussing this!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 5:40am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    numb nuts never learn, But now I know Which Scuba group NOT to go to. Thanks for bringing this to light Maldives Scuba Diving.

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA, Oh and you suck. Sue That!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Daniel Morritt, May 13th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Re: Sued for discussing

    Not me... Ahh sh*t...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    I don't get it... "SHALL MAKE NO LAW" seems pretty clear to me. How in the world can this lawsuit be constitutional?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    dymphna, May 13th, 2010 @ 6:06am

    it seems laughable

    but a friend of mine lost their site over something equally stupid a couple of years back. When the persons involved couldn't find purchase with a standard lawsuit, they simply went for an internet smear campaign. The latter worked where the former had failed. The guy lost almost everything and had to start from scratch.

    -- Just to be clear - I mean that someone was trying to sue his site the way this diving company is trying to sue scubaboard. And *then* they took the smear route.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    the interesting thing is that the case has merits, if employees or agents of the board were posting negative comments. it is a real issue for boards that give any recompense (monetary or prestige) to moderators, posters, or staff members. considering recent case law as discussed here on techdirt, it would appear to have legs. 'we have already shown that...', you get the rest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    BBT, May 13th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    Because if there's one thing that will improve your company's reputation among scuba divers, it's suing a community of scuba divers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 9:08am


    and letting a community of scuba divers with an agenda take a dump all over your company in public over and over again is, what, good for business? what a moronic way to look at things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Scubadiver, May 13th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    More information

    If you want more information it can be found at

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2010 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re:

    Or, you know, in the world outside of TAM-fantasyland, where there are more than just two choices in a false dilemma, the company could have responded rationally *on the forum* instead of throwing a tantrum.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Scubadiver, May 13th, 2010 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re:

    Anonymous Coward:
    No, its not good buisness to let people walk all over you. Making sure you do your best not to CO poison your customers would be though..

    The only problem is Scubaboard and the majority of its users never had an agenda to do so. Shes given them good reason to have one now though..
    Scubaboard also is not the only place where the incident has been drawn to the public either.

    And in addition we have the ripples this case can send all over the internet. If Gundi wins, it means anything anyone say on any forum about any company can get that forum shut down or in big economic missery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Scuba Board Doe?, May 13th, 2010 @ 10:08am

    Re: Law Suit

    FYI SB "moderated" and locked down the discussion before the death and injuries.

    The discussion involved a number of people who had dived with the operator, had very bad experiences, complained of and tried to warn others of what they viewed (and future events proved) to be unsafe practices of the operator.

    The Canadian Travel Advisory issued a Travel warning for Canadian considering diving there. The compressor company Bauer issued a press release which was pretty clear about who should be held liable for the problems.

    SB has a forum to discuss deaths and incidents to prevent further deaths and injuries. The matter was further discussed there. Some of it got heated and some perhaps not well worded. My personal opinion is based on participation in the discussions before/after the fatal incident as well a communicating privately with people who were personally involved up to and including performing CPR on the deceased. I wouldn't put my worst enemy on a boat that had anything to do with that Dove Operator!

    IMHO the global economic downturn, the increase in other options for Diving in the Maldives, and the fact that someone died and a number of others were ill and injured on their holidays with this operator explain the decrease in business the plaintiff suing over.

    My question is.. why not sue the Canadian Government and The Bauer Corporation? They were much more vocal and damning.. oh my.. I wonder if it has more to do with the dollars and legal representation that is available to those entities?

    The way this claim has been launched does not say good things about the Plaintiff, her legal representatives or the legal system. A foreign national launching a suit from another country over an event that occurred in a third country naming citizens of other countries.. makes my head spin!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    DiverDude, May 13th, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    Let the lawsuits begin

    It is clear in my mind that the operator is simply grasping at straws in an attempt to get anything she can. I believe that summary judgement will be made in favor of Scubaboard and that will be the end of it, as it should be. Clearly this operator has done nothing to improve in any manner the reputation of the operation in the eyes of the diving community.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Pete "NetDoc" Murray, May 14th, 2010 @ 7:32pm


    I must break silence and thank you for your support in this. No, we have not heard squat from them since our filing and I have no idea if we will. However, you can be sure that we will not "settle" with them and we are committed to fighting them to the bitter end. Pete "NetDoc" Murray: Owner of

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Not a scuba diver, May 14th, 2010 @ 9:59pm

    Go get 'em NetDoc! I find it disturbing that opinions posted on a website can bring about a lawsuit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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