The resort injury lawyers of Brais Brais & Rusak were successful in convincing a Federal court to apply Florida law to a death that occurred in the Bahamas. The case of John Van Hoy, Jr. is heartbreaking. John was on vacation with his fiancée Nicole at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort located Nassau. During his stay, he decided to refresh himself in one of the resort’s hot tubs. As he went under to wet his hair, he became entrapped on the bottom suction drain. Despite the efforts of many people, including other guests at the Sandals’ resort, John remained stuck on the bottom of the hot tub until he drowned. John died that night leaving behind two sons, his mother, father, siblings and Nicole. His death occurred because the hot tub was outfitted by a 12″ x 12″ flat drain cover, the motor / pump assembly were not equipped with a vacuum release system, there were no emergency shut off switch located around the hot tub and it is believed the pump room was locked delaying the shut off of the motor.
Brais Brais & Rusak were hired to represent John’s estate and family. The law firm filed a wrongful death action in Miami, Florida against multiple defendants including: (1) Sandals; (2) the drain cover and pump manufacturer Hayward; (3) the motor manufacturer A.O. Smith as well as the component part distributors Hospitality Purveyors and SCP Distributors. In an effort to significantly reduce the amount of any awardable damages to the Van Hoys, Sandals sought application of Bahamian law to the lawsuit. Under Bahamian law, survivors cannot seek damages for emotion pain and suffer for the death of their loved one and the estate cannot claim damages for any pre-death pain and suffering. As a result, the application of Bahamian law would reduce the Van Hoy’s claim to the amount of the wages John would likely earn in his lifetime and burial expenses. The issue was taken up by the Court in a pretrial motion. Brais Brais & Rusak argued the United States, particularly Missouri and Florida, has a more significant relation to the case than the Bahamas and United States law should apply. The Court agreed with our legal analysis and issued an order applying Florida damages and liability law to the case.
This was Brais Brais & Rusak’s second major victory in this case. Last year Sandals and other defendants attempted to dismiss the case in its entirety requesting the case to be tried in the Bahamas. This motion was denied and the case was allowed to proceed in Florida. You can read more about that decision in our article Judge Rules Sandals Resorts & Pool Component Manufacturers Must Stand Trial in Miami, Florida for Bahamas Entrapment Drowning Death.