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ARTICLE ID 195919

$________ GROSS – HOTEL NEGLIGENCE – PREMISES LIABILITY – WRONGFUL DEATH - HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY – MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE – ALCOHOL INVOLVED COLLISION – DANGEROUS LOCATION OF POOL CABANA – DRUNK DRIVER STRIKES CABANA – HUSBAND SUES AFTER PREGNANT WIFE KILLED AT HOTEL BY DRUNK DRIVER – INSTANTANEOUS WRONGFUL DEATH OF 26-YEAR-OLD, 7-MONTH PREGNANT FEMALE – LOSS OF FETUS – 15% NEGLIGENCE AGAINST DEFENDANT HOTEL – 26-YEAR-OLD DECEDENT SURVIVED BY SPOUSE.

Broward County, FL 17th Judicial Circuit Court

In March ________, the plaintiff, Michael D. and his wife, Alanna, the decedent, checked into the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Alanna D., was seven months pregnant at the time, and the couple had been married just three years. They were visiting Ft. Lauderdale from Boston while on a church retreat. Alanna was killed while sitting in the hotel’s poolside cabana restroom when a car traveled off the road and crashed into the cabana. It was determined that the driver, Rosa K.’s, blood alcohol level was .24 – or three times the legal limit. In January ________, she was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison on two counts of DUI Manslaughter.

The decedent wife and her husband were patrons at the defendant’s Fort Lauderdale hotel when a drunk driver crashed into a poolside cabana and caused the death of the decedent and her unborn baby. The plaintiff filed suit against the Riverside Hotel in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Broward County. The plaintiff sought wrongful death damages for the loss of his wife and unborn son on a premises liability action against the Riverside Hotel, claiming that the hotel was negligent in failing to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition by protecting its guest from the known danger of speeding and distracted drivers in the vicinity. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant hotel was negligent in locating the cabana near a dangerous curve in a high traffic road and failing to protect it from vehicles.

The defendant hotel argued that the sole cause of the decedent’s death was the drunk driver whose blood alcohol level was found to be .24 following the collision. The drunk driver was dismissed from the case prior to trial, but remained on the verdict form as a Fabre defendant.

The decedent and her husband traveled from their home in Massachusetts to attend a church conference in Fort Lauderdale. They decided to add an extra day to their trip and checked into defendant’s hotel. After checking in, the couple headed to the hotel’s pool. When they arrived at the pool, the decedent stepped into the poolside cabana to use the restroom when the out-of-control vehicle suddenly smashed through the side of the building. The female married decedent, who was age 26 years old and seven months pregnant, died instantly as a result of the injuries sustained. Her unborn son also died at the scene.

The plaintiff argued that the defendant was aware that the cabana’s location, just 15 feet from the curve in the road, presented a danger to guests because traffic along that road often traveled at excessive speeds. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant had a duty to either move the cabana to a safer location or erect a barrier to prevent it from being struck by vehicular traffic.

The defense maintained that the incident was not foreseeable and that the defendant hotel was not responsible for the tragic death.

Evidence showed that the defendant had installed a stop sign, without county approval, to slow traffic just east of the cabana location. However, Broward County officials removed the stop sign in ________ contending that the location did not warrant a stop sign because vehicular traffic was less than ________ cars per hour.

After seven days of trial, the jury returned a finding for the plaintiff, finding the hotel 15% liable for the deaths of Mrs. D. and her unborn child. The remaining liability was assigned to the driver. The jury found the defendant hotel 15% liable and the (dismissed) drunk driver 85% liable. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, reduced to a net award of $________. Post-trial motions are currently pending.

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