cda technical institute lawsuit

CDA Technical Institute, a Jacksonville diving school, is under intense scrutiny after several of their students have died. Family members of the victims have taken action against the school by filing wrongful death lawsuits, claiming that CDA personnel were responsible for the deaths due to negligence. 

You may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against CDA Technical Institute if you lost a family member who was one of their students and you believe negligence on CDA’s part played a role in their death. Contact a Florida wrongful death attorney with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath for more information on how we may be able to help. You can contact us online or call (561) 655-1990 for a no obligation free case review.

Two active lawsuits following student deaths

CDA Technical prepared students for careers in commercial diving which entails performing industrial construction work underwater, such as welding, inspection, and installation. Sometimes divers might take part in underwater salvage operations.

Family members of CDA Technical students who died are alleging that multiple acts of negligence took place, including failing to properly inspect diving equipment and placing students in dangerous situations, ones they were not properly trained to encounter. The following is information on the two deaths that are the subject of the lawsuits. 

Fausto Martins


Martins, 41, was a CDA Technical student who passed away in April 2022. According to the lawsuit, Martins was complaining that water was entering his helmet as he was performing a training dive and later drowned while on that dive. The lawsuit filed by Martins’ family claims the school failed to ensure the diving gear was being used properly, failed to inspect the equipment, and failed to replace or repair any parts that may have been defective.

A news report quoted a man associated with the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI), one of the organizations responsible for accrediting schools such as CDA Technical. He said that ADCI informed CDA Technical that it was planning to conduct an audit of the school equipment as well as instructor credentials. However, the school declined the audit. The ADCI representative called the refusal to submit to the audit a “massive red flag.” 

Isaiah Johnson

Johnson, 21, died in September 2021 a month after he graduated from the school while on a dive trip CDA Technical organized to celebrate its recent graduates. 

The accident took place near Gainesville, in a nature park known as Ginnie Springs which features several underwater caves.


The lawsuit filed by Johnson’s family against CDA Technical alleges that the school didn’t specifically train Johnson to dive in that type of environment, which is the reason they believe he drowned.

The lawsuit also alleges that a CDA Technical instructor provided alcohol and drugs to the attendees, even as divers were trying to navigate a potentially dangerous environment. There were no drugs or alcohol in Johnson’s system. 

“Stay Alive, Don’t Dive”

Several members of the Jacksonville community lodged protests against CDA Technical in May 2022 with signs saying “Stay Alive, Don’t Dive”. One of the protestors told Jacksonville television station WTLV that they wanted real answers to their questions regarding the school’s operation because the answers that were provided weren’t truthful.

In addition, a former CDA Technical instructor started a petition demanding that the school be closed immediately, a petition which more than 1,000 people had signed by the time of that report.  

Negligence likely played a role

There have been no official statements regarding any potential negligence CDA Technical personnel may have committed. The ADCI was launching a full investigation into the school to take a very detailed look at every facet of the school’s operations, however the school wasn’t cooperating. A spokesman for ADCI said it was “highly unusual” for any fatalities to be linked with diver training itself. 

The school’s membership in the ADCI was suspended pending the results of the investigation, though the school pulled their membership. No timeline was provided regarding how long the investigation would take.

The school was also under investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs would no longer approve CDA Technical to provide training to veterans under the GI bill. 

Although these investigations and lawsuits still need to take their course, there are strong indications that negligence occurred – with tragic results. 

Did you lose a loved one in an accident that may not have been their fault?

No amount of money can fill the void left by the loss of a beloved family member, but the surviving members of that family can file a wrongful death lawsuit in an effort to see that justice is served. 

This is an extremely complex legal action, one that requires the expertise of a skilled wrongful death attorney, one who has the experience and knowledge to navigate all of those complexities. These kinds of cases require hard evidence, and that can only be uncovered through a thorough investigation. 

The attorneys with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have the experience and tenacity to give you the best chance of achieving a positive result in your case. We’ve won millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, and we offer aggressive, passionate, and extremely thorough representation.

We invite you to get in touch with us if you would like to learn more about what we may be able to do for you. If you would like to get to know us, and to schedule a free consultation, please use our online contact form or call (561) 655-1990.