South Florida boy’s Atlantis drowning death to be tried in United States, not Bahamas

Dec. 14, 2001 MIAMI, Fl. - A Miami federal judge has ruled that the tragic August 2000 drowning death of 12-year-old Chad Humphreys of Kendall (a Miami suburb) should be tried in federal court in Florida rather than in the Bahamas. The youth drowned when he was sucked into a swimming pool drain in the Paradise Lagoon at the Atlantis Resorts near Nassau.

U.S. District Judge Paul Huck this week rejected motions by the defense to keep the suit in the Bahamas. Sun Trust Bank, Miami, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Chad Humphreys, v. Sun International Hotels Ltd., and Sun International Bahamas, Ltd., United States District Court, Southern District of Miami, Miami Div., Case No. 00-3741, U.S. District Judge Paul Huck)

The Humphreys family is represented by partners Robert L. Parks, Wm. Andrew "Andy" Haggard, and Jeannete Lewis Bologna of the Coral Gables law firm of Haggard, Parks, Haggard & Bologna, P.A.

Chad was snorkeling with his 10-year-old brother Blake in the Paradise Lagoon on the morning of Aug. 8 when he was sucked headfirst into a 14-inch pipe. He died a violent death with his right ear torn from his head, a fractured rib, a collapsed lung, gashes from his head to his legs, and other injuries.

"The force was so great that the entirety of Chad Humphrey's 5-foot-1-inch body, save for his feet and dive fins, was sucked into a 14-inch pipe," the suit said. It also alleged that others had removed most of the grate protecting swimmers from the drainpipe, and that defendants knew this.

The defense had strongly argued the case properly belonged in The Bahamas, and argued that Chad's mother, Sharon Humphreys, signed a waiver on the guest registration form waiving liability for the owners should injury occur - a common procedure when tourists visit resorts or board cruises.

In his order, Judge Huck also said that the defendants - Sun International Hotels, Ltd., and Sun International Bahamas. Ltd. - are Bahamian holding companies that do significant business in South Florida. Sun Hotels is the overall holding company, and Sun Bahamas is a whoIly-owned subsidiary that provides administrative, financial, marketing and reservations services for the resort.

 

 

 

 

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