Articles Tagged with “Resort Tort”

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Disney Century Pop Resort.jpgLast Sunday, 13-year-old Anthony Johnson was rescued by his family from drowning in a Disney Resort pool near Orlando, Florida. Yesterday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced that Anthony had not survived and had been pronounced dead two days later.

Anthony, from Springfield, Missouri, was spending spring break vacation with his family in Central Florida. On Sunday evening, Anthony and friends were playing in the pool of Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Moments later, Anthony was found by his cousin at the bottom of the pool, in just 4 feet of water. Anthony’s father performed CPR until paramedics arrived on scene and took over the resuscitation efforts.

It is unclear at this time what may have cause Anthony to drown. Local news ABC15 reported that there were no lifeguards on duty at the time of the incident and signs “swim at your own risk” were posted. The Sheriff’s office investigation has just begun and could reveal some important elements of answers to explain the family who just lost their young son what may have caused him to drown.

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Ira Leesfield pushes for national attention as he appeared on Nancy Grace.
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Family of 11-year old girl who died by electrocution at Orange Lake Resorts’ mini-golf course seeks $27 million in damages

MIAMI – August, 2012 – In the wake of the death of 11-year-old girl, Ashton Jojo, Florida-based trial law firm Leesfield & Partners has filed suit against Orange Lake Country Club. In June, Ashton was retrieving a golf ball from a pond at Orange Lake Resorts’ mini-golf course when we she was electrocuted and died.

The wrongful death claim was filed in Orange County, Florida, and is seeking $27 Million in damages. Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, these damages include the mental pain and suffering of Ashton’s parents, the loss of Ashton’s companionship, medical expenses, funeral costs, etc. The suit states that upon being electrocuted by the highly energized water in the pond, Ashton was unable to move and collapsed in the energized water, thus suffering continuous electrocution.

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Ashton Jojo, an 11-year-old guest at an Orlando / Kissimmee Resort with her parents and young brother, died on Wednesday after she attempted to retrieve her golf ball from a pond while playing miniature golf.

As soon as the young Ashton reached inside the pond to get her golf ball, “she screamed as if she was in distress” said the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in a released statement. Christopher Burges, also a guest at the same resort, rushed to the rescue of the little girl when he heard the screaming, but as he grabbed the girl’s arm, he too became injured, and was unable to save her. Ashton was rushed to Celebration Hospital in Kissimmee where she later died.

Orange Lake Resort.jpgAshton’s family, from New York, was in Central Florida on vacation, where they celebrated Ashton’s eleventh’s birthday last Friday. Another witness to this tragic event told reporters that one of the Resort’s employees mentioned that the electricity to the pond may have had a “short”. By the time EMS arrived on the scene, the 11-year-old was not responding. The grandmother of one of Ashton’s friends spoke to reporters and said the girls asked her to go golfing with them, and she regrets saying no. “I wish to God that I would of gone because I might of made a difference and I’m going to have to live with that.”

The investigation is still ongoing and Deputies of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office have not confirmed the cause of death. If electrocution turns out to be what caused young Ashton’s death, this incident will be yet another resort tragedy that could have been avoided.

Resort tort incidents occur every year in Florida, whether in Orlando / Central Florida, or in Miami or the Florida Keys, in South Florida. Throughout the state of Florida, Leesfield & Partners have represented countless victims of acts of negligence attributed to resort employees. Recently, Thomas Scolaro settled a claim against a Time-Share / Central Florida Resort for injuries one of its guests sustained while she was using a jacuzzi. Due to some electrical malfunction, the suctioning system of the tub began to pump unexpectedly and caused catastrophic spinal damage to a healthy young woman.
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On March 18, 2012, Alanna Demella was tragically killed at the Riverside Hotel when a car driven by Rosa Maria Rivera crashed into the hotel’s pool cabana built only a few feet away from the roadway.

We previously reported on this terrible accident here: Resort Death of Pregnant Woman Challenges Leesfield & Partners

The Police investigation is still ongoing and, to date, very little information has been released to the public. In the last 72 hours however, we have learned that the Police is looking into Rivera’s potential driving under the influence at the time of the accident. Rivera admitted to the investigators that before the accident, she was with her husband at Mango’s Restaurant, less than two blocks away from where the accident occurred. She also admitted ordering appetizers and a alcoholic beverage. it is still unclear whether Rivera did drink her Martini.

What the investigation has revealed so far is that Rivera was in an angry state when she left the restaurant. Indeed, she told Police Officers that she left the restaurant because she had an argument with her husband. She claimed not having drunk the alcoholic beverage before sitting behind the wheel.

Witnesses to the accident did confirm that the car was going at a high rate of speed and Rivera must have lost control of her car as the only explanation why she drove her car straight into the cabana and why she failed to stay in her lane and make a light turn.

Regardless of whether Rivera was intoxicated at the time, there is no question that she was negligent for causing this accident and for taking the lives of Alanna Demella and her unborn child.

In our prior article (link above), we discussed the possibilities of Riverside Hotel’s negligence in this case. The cabana, as constructed, could have been too close to the roadway and may have been built in violation of rules imposed by the Florida Building Code.

Last week, a witness came forward and advised that there could be another potential defendant who contributed to this crash. From Mango’s restaurant to the scene of the accident, Rivera drove through the intersection of SE 4th Street and SE 8th Avenue. Said intersection did not have any traffic controlling devices such as a 3-way stop sign. In fact, vehicles traveling eastbound or westbound on SE 4th street did not have to stop at all while crossing that intersection.

Clip_2.jpgOnly months prior, that intersection was equipped with two additional stop signs (eastbound & westbound) but for some unknown reason, the traffic signs were removed. On the photo (right) you can still see the darker shade of paint covering the “stop lane”. The reasons for the removal of the stop sign is purely speculative at this stage. However, from inspecting the scene, it is very understandable why a stop sign was there in the first place.

Vehicles traveling westbound on SE 4th Street do not have to slow down before the light right-hand turn at the Riverside Hotel. The danger created by the absence of traffic control devices, such as a stop sign, is compounded by the peculiar absence of any signs alerting drivers that the roadway turns to the right. In fact, there are no markings on the pavement, and there are no traffic signs. A thorough investigation would help to show whether such lack of traffic signs and signage on the pavement of the roadway played a role in Rivera’s failure to make the turn and her car crashing into the hotel’s pool cabana.
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On November 15, 2011, Celebrity Cruises Passenger Bernice Kraftcheck boarded the Turtle, a small boat owned and operated by Caribbean Watersports & Tours, a corporation based out of the U.S. Virgin Island, which offers parasailing excursions through Celebrity Cruises.

After the two cruise passengers boarded the Turtle, the weather became more and more menacing as the winds picked up in intensity and a heavy cluster of low clouds formed above the small bay where the parasailing experience was to take place. Despite the changes in weather and the dangerous windy conditions, the operator decided to launch Bernice and Danielle into the sky.

Moments later, as Bernice and Danielle were high up in the sky, the operator’s parasail rope broke, causing the tandem to plummet from the sky into the water. While Danielle sustained massive and catastrophic injuries, her mother Bernice sustained serious fatal injuries, eventually resulting in her death.

Read our earlier post on this accident here: Celebrity Cruises Terminates Parasail Excursion After Death of Passenger

Leesfield & Partners has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Celebrity and against the parasail operator for their respective failures and acts of negligence. A copy of the complaint filed today in Federal Court can be obtained by clicking here.

For any media inquiry, please contact Ira Leesfield by email or by phone at 305-854-4900.

The parasailing accident attorneys of Leesfield & Partners are nationally recognized for handling similar catastrophic parasailing accident cases in the past.

parasailing accident.jpgWithin the last five years, Ira Leesfield represented two minor sisters who also plummeted from the sky after the rope of the parasail broke off due to bad weather. One of the two sisters sustained severe permanent physical and emotional injuries. The other sister was fatally injured and despite the doctors’ efforts to keep her alive on a ventilator, she ultimately died after being in a coma for two days.

This case received national exposure with appearances on The Today Show and Inside Edition. In that case, the operator of the parasail decided to disregard weather warnings sent out over the radio to boaters and to ignore the increasingly menacing clouds and powerful winds. As soon as they were in the air, the two girls, as shown in the photo above, were dangerously close from the shore and the nearby buildings. The winds were so intense that the small boat pulling the parasail was almost beached. Ultimately, the winds were too strong for the subpar equipment, and the rope broke off, sending the two girls flying against the buildings behind them. They were uncontrollably catapulted from one building’s roof to another, before falling almost 40 feet to the ground where they were rescued by horrified witnesses.

In a more recent case handled by Thomas Scolaro, a young wife and mother sustained severe facial injuries and closely escaped losing her life by drowning after the parasail operator decided to send her up on the parasail in the middle of a forming storm, despite other owners shutting down their parasail operations at the same time.
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