Firm News

Appellate court ruling in Bahamas resort case an important victory for persons injured in The Bahamas

February 1, 2010

MIAMI, FL – A recent U.S. appellate court ruling in the case of Daisy Scott Emory, an Orlando woman who drowned at a resort in The Bahamas, is an important legal victory for persons injured or killed as a result of the negligence of hotels or resorts in the Bahamas or the Caribbean, according to attorneys Robert Parks and Gabrielle Lyn D’Alemberte.

“Every year hundreds of people suffer negligence-related injuries or death while vacationing in resorts in the Caribbean area, said Parks, partner, The Law Offices of Robert Parks, P.L., Coral Gables, which represented the Emory’s estate. Mr. Parks was born in Nassau, Bahamas and maintains close family ties with family members who still reside there.

The firm’s legal team, including appellate co-counsel Joel Perwin, argued that a U.S. courtroom was the proper forum for this resort negligence case for a number of reasons. The personal representative of Emory’s estate, her daughter Rene Wilson, is a Florida resident, and all key witnesses in the case, including family members, friends, doctors, and Emory's employer, are U.S. residents.

In December 2009, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that will allow the case to proceed in U.S. courts.

Outlining the facts in the case, D’Alemberte said that Emory, a 48-year-old Orlando resident, purchased a discounted vacation package at the Island Palm Resort on Grand Bahama Island in 2006. The vacation package required her to tour the Island Palm's sister hotel, the Island Seas, and attend a timeshare presentation.

Emory traveled to the Bahamian resort with her daughter, sister, and two cousins. While at the Island Seas, Emory and her party purchased tickets for a banana boat ride from Paradise Watersports, LLC, a vendor that operated a kiosk near the front desk. Paradise Watersports leased the kiosk space at the Island Seas in order to market its services directly to guests and visitors of the resort.

At that point, Emory notified George Douglas, a Paradise Watersports employee in charge of towing the banana boats, that she and another member of her party could not swim, according to D’Alemberte. Douglas then gave Emory a life vest that was too small and worn, but assured her that it would keep her afloat if necessary. However, the boat capsized while carrying Emory and three of her family members, and Emory fell into the water and drowned.

After carefully reviewing the facts of the case, Parks and D’Alemberte filed a plaintiff’s lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging negligence and vicarious liability.

Last year, a U.S. District Court in Miami granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the resort negligence case, finding that The Bahamas was the proper forum for the plaintiff's claims. However in December 2009, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the lower court’s decision, sending the case back to be heard in district court.

“The significance of this important decision is that persons injured or killed in the Bahamas or the Caribbean may have the opportunity to have their case resolved in a United States courtroom,” stated Bahamian born attorney Parks. “We are hopeful this important case can be resolved later this year,” added D’Alemberte.