Recently, an appellate court issued its opinion in an appeal stemming from the tragic death of a man in a Florida hotel swimming pool. The man’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hotel alleging, among other issues, that the hotel was responsible for the death of her husband because they failed to hire professional lifeguards to supervise its swimming pool.
According to the court’s opinion, the man was a guest of the hotel when he entered the swimming pool, which was operated and maintained by the hotel. While the man was swimming, he became submerged and died from drowning. His wife alleged that that the hotel breached their duty to provide and maintain a reasonably safe swimming pool and failed to protect their guests from unreasonable risk of physical harm. During the trial, the court provided the jury with an instruction that Florida law had no legal duty to “post a professional lifeguard at its pool.” The woman appealed the jury instruction and the trial court’s ruling granting the defendant summary judgment.
Under Florida law, negligence occurs when a person or entity fails to exercise reasonable care by engaging in a behavior that a reasonably careful person would not do, or failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do under similar circumstances. Generally, trial courts maintain the discretion to determine whether a jury instruction is appropriate, and instructions should not be overturned on appeal, unless there is a showing of prejudicial error.
Further, Florida law does not impose a legal obligation on the owner or operator of a private hotel swimming pool to provide a lifeguard for its patrons. Florida Administrative Codes do provide the public with training and certification requirements of lifeguards at public swimming pools; the legal imposition only applies if a hotel hires a professional lifeguard. However, the rule does not require that a private hotel must hire a lifeguard. In some cases, plaintiffs will argue that a hotel must provide a lifeguard because the swimming pool is in a “zone of risk.” Still, this argument often fails because the risk of a swimming pool without a lifeguard is open, known, and obvious.
In this case, the court ultimately found that the hotel was not responsible for the wrongful death of the man. The court reasoned that the hotel did not have a duty to provide a lifeguard, and the absence of one was known and obvious to the man. Therefore, they concluded that the jury instruction was appropriate and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.
Have You Suffered Injuries at a Florida Hotel?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries or death because of the negligence of a Florida hotel or its staff, you should contact the attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. The attorneys at our law firm have a unique understanding of these wrongful death and negligence claims. Despite the challenges that many Florida wrongful death claims pose, our attorneys have experience overcoming these barriers and recovering substantial amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients. Compensation in these cases typically includes payments for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.