The Source for Maritime Legal Information

Judge Rules Sandals Resorts & Pool Component Manufacturers Must Stand Trial in Miami, Florida for Bahamas Entrapment Drowning Death

John Van Hoy, Jr.jpegResort and vacation injury lawyers Keith S. Brais and Richard D. Rusak of Brais Brais Rusak recently won a significant victory in Miami Federal Court in a lawsuit involving the December 28, 2010 hot tub entrapment drowning death of John Van Hoy, Jr., father of two adopted children. Click this link to read the Order denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the wrongful death case.

Vacationers Beware – When You Vacation in the Caribbean,
Sandals Resorts Will Argue You No Longer Have A Right to a Jury Trial in the United States

Sandals Resorts heavily advertises in the United States. Historically Sandals Resorts has earned tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. vacationers lured to its Caribbean resorts. Sandals Resorts and its sister company Beaches have their sales and marketing agent, Unique Vacations, Inc., a mere stone’s throw from the Miami International Airport. See, photo below:
Miami Sandals Resort Injury Lawyer.jpg

And finally, Sandals Resorts when it’s to its benefit sues in the United States at the drop of a hat. Despite all of this and more, if you are seriously injured or worse die at a Sandals Resort, Sandals will argue: (a) it ought not be sued in the United States, (b) your U.S. lawsuit should be dismissed and (c) that your lawsuit must be refiled in the Caribbean Island where the accident occurred under antiquated and much less plaintiff friendly laws all in an effort to escape or greatly limit liability. Gordon “Butch” Stewart, founder of Sandals Resorts, is reportedly a millionaire hundreds of times over, if not a billionaire. Good for him and his family. With his substantial empire, however, comes great responsibility, including the repair, maintenance and upkeep of the Sandals’ properties to ensure minimal and well-recognized safety standards are met. In the case of pools and hot tubs this includes, but is not limited to one or a combination of the following:

1. Dual suction outlet drains (per pump),
2. Nearby emergency shut-off switches,
3. ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 compliant suction outlet drain covers,
4. Unblockable Drain (with minimal dimensions of 18″ x 23″, see example drawings below),

Pool Grate Photo 1.png

5. Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) or similar device to automatically turn off an electric motor or otherwise eliminate the vacuum holding force in the event an obstruction is detected (compliant with ASME/ASNI A112.19.17),
6. Suction-Limiting Vent System that meets ASTM F2387
7. Gravity Drainage System (see, exemplar diagram below),

John Van Hoy Attorneys.png

Allegations of Van Hoy’s Federal Complaint

Court papers filed in Miami, Florida allege John Van Hoy, Jr. was using a hot tub at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, where he was vacationing with his fiancée Nicole Cleaveland. At some point, John became trapped underwater about his lower back a consequence of which he could not surface. The technical term is “entrapment”. Entrapment results in suction or hold-down forces that result from one or a combination of improperly designed pools/hot tubs, electric motors, pumps, suction outlet drain sumps, suction outlet drain covers and/or filters all alleged to be unsafe and defective in the Van Hoy Complaint. These types of enormous hold down suction forces are not uncommon, particularly with single suction outlet drains and have resulted in countless and completely preventable serious personal injuries, deaths and eviscerations. Below are links to just some news stories on suction entrapment.

ABC News Story on Suction Entrapment
Play It Safe Slide Show of Suction Entrapment Victims
The Abigail Taylor Story
20/20 Pool Entrapment Special Pt. 1
20/20 Pool Entrapment Special Pt. 2