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Specialist Forums > General Forum > TDI, SDI & ERDI (ITI) Loses Lawsuit and Final Appeal Against Former Associates
posted : July 25, 2007 Post subject: TDI, SDI & ERDI (ITI) Loses Lawsuit and Final Appeal Against Former Associates
TDI, SDI & ERDI (ITI) Loses Lawsuit and Final Appeal Against Former Associates

and is ordered to pay attorney’s fees

It is inevitable that when a legal dispute takes place in a small industry like the diving industry, that mistaken information and rumors will abound. Such has been the case in a lawsuit filed by International Training (ITI), who does business in the diving industry as Technical Diving International, SCUBA Diving International and Emergency Response Diving International against four of its former associates. A quick look into the status of this case reveals facts that are far different from some of the claims that have either been reported or rumored within the industry. The fact is, ITI failed in its years long effort to sue four of its former associates on 14 November 2006, when the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court’s ruling for the defendants in their lawsuit against Mike Ange, Dave Crockford, Joe Keiser and Joe Odom. This was the second judicial review of the case since ITI originally lost the case a few months after it was initially filed and the second time that the ruling has been affirmed. (The actual decisions of the courts can be viewed on the internet at the links shown below.) The final blow to ITI’s suit came in April when the U.S. District Court ordered ITI to pay defendants Mike Ange and Joe Keiser thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees (the other defendants did not petition for fees). The period to appeal the fee decision has now passed, finally ending all pending issues in the suit with regard to these defendants. Four other defendants in the case were released due to the Maine Court’s lack of jurisdiction over those defendants and ITI has filed against those individuals in Florida.
Mike Ange was the only party available for immediate comment and he states: "Individuals may draw whatever inferences they want from these facts: The US District Court dismissed these claims very early, without the necessity of a trial or a single hearing. This decision was then affirmed by two separate judicial reviews. The appellate court awarded cost to the defendants, which apparently it very rarely does. The Maine District Court then took the unusual step of ordering the plaintiff’ to pay the defendants thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. I think these several decisions from two different Courts speak for themselves and any further comment would be both redundant and counterproductive. That is all that needs to be said about this nuisance – I have simply left ITI behind and continue to enjoy my sport while growing my business as I always have."

Indeed, it seems that all four of these now vindicated defendants have taken this approach. Mike Ange’s most popular annual programs are already scheduled through 2008, including the Tech Diver’s Boot Camp, in its 7th year, that will be the subject of a documentary film to be shot in November. Crockford continues to manage the successful offices of PSAI in the United Kingdom and Keiser is reportedly involved with a new agency being formed in Asia. Joe Odom is the only individual of the four who is apparently not still active in the diving industry and this is reportedly due to health concerns, although we could not reach Odom for verification of this information.

Lawsuit Background – The four defendants, Ange, Odom, Crockford and Keiser served in various roles with ITI, the parent company of TDI, SDI & ERDI, until they resigned from the company in late 2004 or early 2005 for undisclosed reasons. Each of these individuals moved on to pursue other interests in the diving industry. Unfortunately, according to the court documents filed in September 2005, ITI found the loss of these individuals, some of whom they characterized as "their most respected authors", to be a significant detriment to their business. Specifically, ITI states in their pleadings filed with the court that: "These particular individuals, due to their expertise in the diving industry, have been extremely difficult to replace." Claiming that their business "had suffered" and that they had experienced "irreparable injury", ITI decided to launch a suit against these four individuals and other entities with whom these individuals worked after leaving ITI. These defendants felt the suit was unjustified and, in the personal opinion of Mike Ange, the suit was "just a frivolous use of the judicial system to harass us and an attempt to interfere with the continuation of business."

In response to the suit, the defendants filed a motion with the US Federal Court, Maine District, in November 2005, asking the Court to dismiss the case on the basis that ITI had failed to state a valid claim upon which relief could be granted or in the alternative to have ITI state a more definitive case. ITI had an opportunity at that time to modify their claim or otherwise respond but they chose not to do so and the Court ruled in early March 2006, that ITI had failed state a valid claim, by granting the motion and dismissing the case. ITI was entitled to an immediate review of the ruling by the Chief Judge of the Maine Federal District Court, which they requested and lost. In a memorandum of law, ITI admitted, "injury to ITI’s reputation and financial well being and this effect was being felt every day in Maine". In spite of this admission, their two previous losses and Brian Carney’s (ITI’s President) written admission that ITI had "to expend thousands of dollars in legal fees" ITI decided to file yet another appeal with the US Court of Appeals, which they lost on 14 November 06. The only remaining recourse ITI had available was an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and possible appeals on the award of attorney fees to the defendants. The time for pursuing those options has now expired, so this case with regard to the claims made against Ange, Odom, Crockford and Keiser is over, having been effectively decided on the merits of ITI’s case or in this case the apparent lack of merit and closing the door to future suits on the same issues.

Verifying References:

See the pleadings and appeals filed by ITI and its president Brian Carney on file with the US District Court in Portland, Maine.
US District Court’s initial decision can be viewed at
The Court’s de nova review decision can be viewed at
And for the US Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit at
Fee Petition Decision

Manches LLP
posted : July 31, 2007 Post subject: TDI, SDI & ERDI (ITI) Loses Lawsuit and Final Appeal Against Former Associates
In the interest of balance, and in reply to the above:

The statement about “SDI/TDI/ERDI Losing Lawsuit and Final Appeal Against Former Associates” is partially true. The court did in fact release Dave Crockford, Joe Keiser, Mike Ange and Joe Odom from the lawsuit in Maine and ordered SDI/TDI/ERDI to pay some of the legal fees. What the release fails to mention is that SDI/TDI/ERDI did not lose the lawsuit against PSA, PSAI, Hal and Janice Watts but the Maine court ordered that SDI/TDI/ERDI needed to re file the case in Florida against PSA, PSAI, Hal and Janice Watts, of which SDI/TDI/ERDI did.
Upon re filing the case and after the depositions of Hal and Janice Watts, it came out that actually the 4 associates, Crockford, Ange, Odom and Keiser left PSA, PSAI, Hal and Janice Watts holding the bag. PSA/PSA quickly settled as a result of which SDI/TDI/ERDI was very happy with the results.

See link

As they say in, the associates may have won one battle, but in the end, the company they worked for lost the war. Ange, Odom, and Keiser were fired from PSA/PSAI and Dave Crockford territory has been reduced substantially from what was originally given to him.

This post was put out to confuse the market again, a tactic that originally landed them all in a lawsuit. I know Hal and Janice Watts were not responsible for putting out this press release, so suffice to say, it looks like at least one of the former four associates is once again up to their old tricks.

This response is signed and sent directly from the SDI/TDI UK Regional Office. At SDI/TDI we do not, nor have we ever conducted business by disrupting the market place. We stand behind our statements, something the originator of this post does not. It is sad to see that the four former associates may have taken advantage of Hal Watts once again.

posted : August 3, 2007 Post subject: TDI, SDI & ERDI (ITI) Loses Lawsuit and Final Appeal Against Former Associates
RE Post from Manches LLP

In the interest of accuracy – I am correcting some factual errors in your post.

Let me start by stating that I do not know who posted the initial post and although I am quoted fairly accurately, I never intentionally spoke with the poster. In his/her defense and to correct your first error, para 1 of his/her post does in fact note the lawsuit in Florida.

Error 2: I was never employed by PSAI or PSA and therefore could not have been and was never fired by PSAI or PSA.

Error 3: Even in terms of the distribution contract my company held for PSAI your facts are wrong. Due to business concerns unrelated to this lawsuit, in February of 2006, I initiated an effort to dissolve amicably my company’s contract with PSAI. The contract was in fact dissolved amicably when Mr Watts agreed to purchase the distribution contract back from me in March of 2006. This was 7 months before the appeal in the Maine case was even heard by the court and 1 year prior to the depositions for the Florida case that you reference in your post. This dissolution was documented in writing and this documentation can be produced.

Your post contains other errors, but they do not affect me, so I see no need to comment on those.

As I was already quoted as stating, there is no need for further commentary. I would ask you to review the legalities regarding libel and slander and more thoroughly check your facts to avoid any additional oversights in future post or correspondence. Anyone desiring documentation of these facts or any other discussion please feel free to contact me directly at my office in the U.S. via phone at 1 (1) 727-844-3401 or via email.

Best Regards,
Mike Ange

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