Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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This past weekend, Alexis Musumeci (24) and her sister Brittany Musumeci (23) were killed when the vehicle they were in was crashed head-on by a vehicle driven by Admerson Cleber Eugenio Vicente (23).

sisters.jpgThere is no sense in explaining away why this incident occurred. It should never have happened. Last March, Vicente had his driver’s license revoked for 5 years for multiple traffic violations which included operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license and without insurance. Vicente’s license had been suspended after he was arrested and convicted for driving under the influence (twice over the legal limit)

Obviously, despite his serious run-ins with the criminal justice system, Vicente was again behind the wheel of a vehicle last Saturday, inexplicably driving on the wrong side of I-95, when he collided head-on with Alexis and Brittany’s vehicle.

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Yesterday, we reported on the tragic accident that took the life of a bicyclist and seriously injured another in a hit and run accident that occurred in Key Biscayne in the early morning hours.

Alejandro Alvarez.jpgIn the last 24 hours, police has released additional information on what caused the accident, and the identities of the people involved. 21-year-old Alejandro Alvarez was arrested by police after he admitted to running over bicyclists Walter Reyes, and Henry Hernandez. Walter Reyes succumbed to his injuries at the scene, while Henry Hernandez was emergently taken to Mercy Hospital for serious physical injuries. Henry is said to be in stable condition at this time.

Upon admitting being at the wheels of the 2014 VW Jetta involved in the incident, Alvarez was arrested by police. He is currently behind bars and facing multiple criminal charges, including manslaughter and driving under the influence.

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Early this morning, two bicyclists were ran over by a motor vehicle in Key Biscayne. Police has advised that the driver who struck the bicyclists fled the scene, yet investigators have since indicated that the alleged driver was currently in custody.

There are very few details to date about the incident other than it occurred at around 5:30 A.M. and that the fatally struck bicyclist was in the right lane of the Rickenbacker Causeway near Crandon Park Marina. The other bicyclist, whose health condition remains unknown, was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Both families have a civil claim against the driver, and any other potential and non-obvious defendants.

Sadly fatal accidents of bicyclists in Key Biscayne is nothing new to authorities and to our law firm. In 2012, Aaron Cohen was on his bicycle on the Rickenbacker Causeway with his friend Enda Welsh, when he was also struck by a motorist, Michele Traverso. Much like today’s incident, Traveso fled the scene only to surrender himself 18 hours later. By the time Traverso was in custody, police could no longer garner evidence that Traverso was intoxicated at the time of the incident, and therefore could not possibly charge him with a DUI. Traverso was ultimately sentenced for less than two years behind bar for leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

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In less than 24 hours, South Florida roadways have witnesses four motor vehicle accidents which caused the death of six people. While the number of traffic accident fatalities is in somewhat decline in the State overall, last weekend’s events are a brutal reminder that traffic safety remains the greatest cause for unnatural deaths in Florida.

Ambulance_iStock_000011321000Medium.jpgIn Miami Beach, a woman was killed while crossing the street at Rue Granville and Normandy Drive. She was struck by a car on Sunday night and was emergently transported to the hospital. She succumbed to her serious injures at the hospital.

Earlier that day, two women crossing Alligator Alley were killed when they were struck by an SUV near mile marker 63. According to the driver of the vehicle who struck them, the police said the deceased were walking along the median of Alligator Alley and began crossing the road in the direction of their car that was parked in a rest area along the road. The driver of the SUV was unable to avoid them and after hitting the windshield, they both died at the scene.

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On sunday evening, Ernesto Hernandez, 23, was pronounced dead at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami where he was airlifted following an incident off Nixon beach in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Ernesto was with his family and friends on a sunday afternoon when a nearby motorboat became stuck on a sand bar. Several people jumped out of the boat, including Ernesto, to assist the operator of the boat to free up the vessel from the sand bar. That is when one of the four propeller engines of the boat caught Ernesto and inflicted fatal injuries to his body. Jorge Pino, an investigator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission relayed to the media that the “young man who came to assist ended up in the rear of the vessel and one of the engines and the propeller actually caught his body, his torso.” Despite the rescue efforts, first of his friends and family, followed by fire rescue, Ernesto succumbed from the injuries he sustained while helping the vessel.

The boat in question is a 40-foot pleasure boat operated at the time by DJ Laz, a popular South Florida radio voice. The vessel was being used as Pitbull’s vodka brand Voli Spirits’ promotional boat.

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crClip_6.jpg7-year-old Calder Sloan was in his swimming pool with Gary, the son of his nanny, who was watching Calder and his younger brother Caleb in their home in North Miami Beach when the unthinkable happened. Gary felt a shock and jumped out of the water yelling for Calder to do the same. Calder did not hear him as he was swimming under water at the time. A split second later, Calder was thrown out of the water. Neighbors rushed to the backyard, performed CPR while getting zapped themselves.

Calder was rushed to Jackson North Medical Center, but the young boy could not survive the jolt of electricity that went through his body. The Miami Herald reported power source could have been as much as 120 volts.

crClip_5.jpgA photograph of the pool light showed rust and corrosion which further evidences an electrical circuit issue with the repairs. Calder’s father, Chris Sloan, told media that about nine months ago, he had an electrician fix the pool light which was not working properly.

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Last week, two year-old twin sisters Harmony and Harmani West tragically drowned in the swimming pool of their apartment complex, Tivoli Park, in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Since the incident, while the parents are attempted to cope with their brutal and unfair loss, residents and neighbors have clearly and unequivocally placed the blame on the management company for the family’s loss.

“The doors don’t lock.” Residents said in no uncertain terms that the door and gate to the pool is always open. Lou Pena, a fellow resident at Tivoli Park told police and news reporters that the pool door “never locks. Anyone can go in whenever they want I don’t blame a little child for wandering in it was going to happen sooner or later.”

As discussed last week in our first entry on this tragedy, Florida Law imposes that residential swimming pools be fenced in. At the time of passage of the new law, drowning was the leading cause of death of young children in the state of Florida. The Legislature received testimony of experts throughout the legislative process confirming that constant adult supervision is the key to accomplishing the objective of reducing the number of submersion incidents, and that when lapses in supervision occur a pool safety feature designed to deny, delay, or detect unsupervised entry to the swimming pool will reduce drowning incidents.

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In Northern California’s Calaveras County last night, twin brothers Ryan Hall and Joshua Hall died during a local power outage. The two 22-year-old brothers were ventilator dependents and the early investigation revealed that their respective ventilators’ back-up system systems failed when the house lost power.

twins16n-1-web.jpgRyan and Joshua Hall suffered from muscular dystrophy and relied on their ventilator to breathe for them. Sheriff Gary Kuntz told reporters that the investigation is focused on the reasons why the backup systems failed.

This tragic incident is eerily similar to a case Leesfield Scolaro recently handled and successfully resolved after almost three years of litigation, and a $2.5 million wrongful death settlement was reached for the parents and sole caretakers of the 31 year-old man who died.

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At dawn this morning in Miami, a Chevy pick-up truck traveling eastbound on Northeast 15th Street, in downtown Miami, was t-boned by a white Daimler SMART car traveling southbound on Biscayne Boulevard. One of the investigators told the media that it is believed the driver of the SMART car failed to stop at a stop sign or a red light, which was the cause for the two vehicle to collide at such a high rate of speed.

car2go-crash.jpegThe incident occurred at approximately 4:45am on Wednesday August 14, 2013. The passenger of the SMART car, a young woman in her twenties was fatally injured and died at the scene. The driver of the SMART car was critically injured and rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The condition of the driver of the pick-up truck remain unknown but reporters have shared that there are serious concerns he may have sustained a catastrophic spinal cord injury and may be paralyzed. (Photo on the left courtesy of Miami Herald)

The SMART car involved in this incident, whose driver was supposedly at fault, was a CAR2GO vehicle. According to the company’s website, CAR2GO is a mobility program launched in Austin, Texas back in November 2009. The company provides a fleet of free-floating vehicles distributed all over the city. Individuals who become members of CAR2GO have the ability to use any vehicle from the CAR2GO fleet at any time.

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Florida law is clear. The owner of a resort owes its guests the duty to exercise ordinary care in providing a safe and proper place to bathe or swim.

In the exercise of ordinary and reasonable care, the owner of a resort which offers swimming pools as attractions or amusements are required to furnish a reasonably sufficient number of attendants or lifeguards for the protection of bathers, and the total absence of lifeguards at a public swimming pool may be negligence.

Last Sunday, a young teenager drowned in the pool of Disney’s Pop Century Resort near Orlando, FL. On Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Office advised that the 13-year-old, Anthony Johnson, had passed away. The Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg first reported the event yesterday: 13-year-old boy drowns at Disney’s Pop Century Resort in Central Florida

Details of the actual reason for the death of Anthony have not been made public by the authorities. We know that at approximately 9:30pm, Anthony was found at the bottom of the 4-feet deep swimming pool and pulled by his cousin. Immediate attempts to resuscitate were made by the child’s father, as well as a firefighter who was vacationing at the resort and who was present when Anthony’s body was pulled out of the water.

Rescue arrived moments later. According to other guests’ testimonials, resuscitation efforts lasted for almost an hour before Anthony was put on a stretcher and transported emergently to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than 48 hours later.

Disney released a statement indicating that the lifeguards at the resort are on duty until 8pm every night. The pool where Anthony drowned, however, remains open past 8pm and swimmers are swimming at their own risk. Disney further advised that signs are posted throughout the area to alert swimmers. It is also important to note that Disney advertises its pools to be for “Preschoolers, Kids, Tweens, Teens, Adults, All Ages.”

An investigation into this tragedy will aim to answer several questions. If it is ascertained that the incident occurred at a time where lifeguards were not on duty, one must look into the reason for the pool to have remained open past 8pm. One can understand that any resort would want to keep its pools open for guests to use at their own discretion, but then why not man each pool with human security? In other words, why not extend the duties of lifeguards by several hours, like it is customarily done in other resorts?

Secondly, despite the absence of any lifeguards at the time Anthony was in the pool, was the resort equipped with mandatory life-saving and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in case a drowning were to occur? Not only that, was a staff person trained in the use of AEDs on duty at the time this incident took place?

Unfortunately, this tragedy is not the first of its kind. Several years ago, parents have endured the loss of their 6-year-old boy who drowned in one of the Disney’s swimming pools. While the circumstances of that tragedy were a bit different, Disney did agree to an out-of-court settlement with the family who had lost their loved one. The lawsuit, in part, alleged that the single lifeguard posted at the pool failed to adequately supervise the guests who were using the pool. The family also alleged that Disney should have had more than one lifeguard on duty at the time because of the large crowd of people using the pool.
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