Firm News

MIAMI JUDGE RULES LAWSUIT IN VACATIONER’S DEATH CAN BE TRIED IN A U.S. COURT RATHER THAN THE BAHAMAS

May 18, 2010

A Key Victory for Plaintiff’s Estate, Says Coral Gables Attorney

MIAMI – May 18, 2010 – U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan has ruled that a lawsuit for damages in the death of a Georgia man will be tried in the United States rather than in The Bahamas.

“This is an important victory for U.S. residents who suffer injuries or death while visiting The Bahamas,” said Coral Gables attorney Robert L. Parks, who represents the estate of David Knowlton in the lawsuit against Marriott International, Inc., a Maryland Corporation; and other corporate defendants including The Ritz- Carlton Hotel Company, LLC, a Maryland Corporation; The Ritz-Carlton Management Company, LLC, a Maryland Corporation; The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LTD., a Bahamian Corporation; The Abaco Club RC, LTD., a Bahamian Corporation; and The Abaco Club Association, LTD., a Bahamian Corporation.

Parks, a native of The Bahamas and partner at The Law Offices of Robert Parks, P.L. said Knowlton, 53, was vacationing with three friends at The Abaco Club in August 2007. After a day of golfing, the group visited a natural rock cliff on the property called the “Point.” After taking photos of the sunset, Knowlton’s friends left for a few minutes, when they returned, Knowlton was missing. His body was discovered the following morning in a cove 2.5 miles away.

Parks filed the suit on behalf of R. Travis Collins, the estate’s personal representative, for the club’s negligence in failing to warn its guests of the danger of the rock cliff and in failing to ensure that the Point was safe.

Although the defendants argued that The Bahamas was the most convenient location for the case, the plaintiff’s legal team prevailed in the forum non conveniens lawsuit. Judge Jordan agreed with Parks that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida would be the most appropriate forum for the case.

In his May 10th ruling, the Miami judge said the trial would proceed in the U.S., “providing an American plaintiff [with] an American forum,” adding that all six defendants are corporations. Three of the companies are based in The Bahamas and did not contest jurisdiction in Florida: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LTD., The Abaco Club RC, LTD., and The Abaco Club Association, LTD.

Last year, Parks and his law partner, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, successfully argued a similar motion on behalf of another client, Daisy Scott Emory, an Orlando woman who drowned at a resort in The Bahamas. In December 2009, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that will allow that case to proceed in U.S. courts.

“We believe the significance of these rulings is that persons injured or killed in the Bahamas or the Caribbean should have the opportunity to have their case resolved in a United States courtroom,” Parks said.

###

About The Law Offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L.
The Law Offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L. is a Coral Gables-based plaintiff’s litigation firm specializing in aviation litigation, resort litigation, premises liability, negligent security, commercial litigation, maritime/admiralty litigation, and general wrongful death and personal injury claims. For more information, please contact Robert Parks at bob@rlplegal.com or call (305) 445-4430 or log onto www.rlplegal.com.