Skip to main content

Florida Judgment in Favor of NMMA

The Daily Business Review reports that Florida's Third District Court of Appeals in a ruling dated December 19th affirmed  a summary final judgment in favor of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

The recreational boat industry trade group, a participant in the 2008 Miami International Boat Show, parked several tractor trailers on a lot owned by the city of Miami Beach under a temporary license and use agreement signed with the city's housing authority. On February 7, 2008, David Collins entered the lot, climbed under a parked trailer and fell asleep. A truck driver for the association, who didn't know anyone was under the trailer, hitched it to his truck and pulled out, running over and fatally injuring Collins.

Collins' mother, Constance Ryan, sued the trade group and the truck driver, alleging he was negligent in failing to "check around and under the tractor-trailer so as to avoid striking a pedestrian in the vicinity." However, a toxicology report determined Collins' blood alcohol level was 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit for drivers. That finding triggered a winning defense.

Under Florida law, anyone "owning or controlling an interest in real property" cannot be held liable for injuries to a trespasser who was legally under the influence of alcohol. The question was: Did the association have an owning or controlling interest? Ryan contended it did not because the agreement with the city was nominally a license. The association asserted it did because the intent of the agreement made it effectively a lease.

"Our argument was that although it was labeled a license, the essence of the document and what they [the housing authority] purported to do was to grant a short-term lease to National Marine," said Rafael De la Grana, who worked on the appellate brief with James K. Clark of Clark, Robb, Mason, Coulombe & Buschman in Miami. "It therefore was entitled to avail itself of the immunity given by the statute."

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge David C. Miller agreed and ruled for National Marine. On appeal, Emas, who wrote the opinion, Salter and Senior Judge Alan Schwartz affirmed. In a special concurrence, Schwartz wrote: "On the ground that as a matter of law, no one is liable for the accident but the decedent, I join in affirmance."

If you are unable to access the opinion here or wish to reach me for any reason, you may do so by writing to me at


Popular posts from this blog

Maritime Law--U.S. Crewmember Required to Arbitrate Claims Applying Norwegian Law

In Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 15-14775 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a U.S. citizen, working aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is required to arbitrate his claims against Royal Caribbean.
Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presented an issue of first impression: Whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls o…

Maritime Law--Tour Boat Captain Implicated in Tragedy Off Nicaragua

As reported in the Daily Business Review on January 25, 2016, Nicaragua's police, army and navy will investigate the captain of a tourist boat and his assistant for the deaths of 13 Costa Rican passengers killed on January 23rd when the vessel capsized in bad weather. The Reina del Caribe, Spanish for "Caribbean Queen," was carrying 33 people when it went down Saturday amid rain and strong winds as it ferried between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination, off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Daily Business Review article can be accessed here=> Daily Business Review article.

The government clarified on the 24th that the boat was carrying 25 Costa Ricans, two Americans, two British citizens, a Brazilian and three Nicaraguans. Previous reports had said there were 32 people on board, including four Americans. All the dead were Costa Ricans.

Nicaragua's naval commander for the southern Caribbean region said the boat's captain was detained because the …

Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 p…