Widow’s wrongful death lawsuit dismissed

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The U.S District Court for the NMI dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit filed by the widow of a 65-year-old Federal Aviation Administration employee who went missing after scuba diving with three other persons at the Grotto in 2018, after a settlement in the case.

Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit filed by Madelyn Jones, who represents her late husband, John Jones, who went missing on Saipan back in 2018, against Axe Murderer Tours LLC’s Harry Blalock, Green Flash LLC’s Joe McDoulett, and Professional Association of Dive Instructors Worldwide Corp., and PADI America’s Inc.

Dismissed with prejudice means the case is dismissed permanently and the plaintiffs can no longer refile the suit.

According to the stipulation of dismissal signed by Tydingco-Gatewood, the parties involved in the case agreed to have the lawsuit dismissed with prejudice as the matter has been resolved. The court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement among the parties.

According to court information, Jones, who lives in Washington, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court back in February over the death of her husband who went missing back in 2018 after scuba diving with the defendants.

Jones, through her lawyer, William M. Fitzerald, sued the defendants for negligence, wrongful death, and for breach of Consumer Protection Act. She was also suing PADI Worldwide and PADI Americas for negligence and vicarious liability. Jones asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to hold the defendants liable to pay her over $75,000 in damages, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.

FAA sent John Jones to Saipan to help re-establish the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, which was damaged by Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.

On Nov. 18, 2018, during John Jones’ day off, he went scuba diving with a fellow employee, Dana Couto, together with Blalock, a PADI-certified professional dive instructor, and McDoulett, another dive instructor, at the popular dive spot, the Grotto. That’s when he went missing.

The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and the Department of Public Safety searched for John Jones for several days. The search was suspended on Nov. 24, 2018.

John Jones was never found. The Superior Court issued a presumptive death certificate on March 22, 2019, with a date of death of Nov. 18, 2018.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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