WWHGD Team Obtains Summary Judgment for a National Hotel Company in a Premises Liability / Wrongful Death Case Alleging Human Trafficking
WWHGD team Chris Byrd, Shubhra Mashelkar and Heather Calhoon recently obtained summary judgment for a national hotel company in a premises liability/wrongful death case where the Plaintiff contended that her Decedent had been a victim of human trafficking. The case arose from the cocaine/fentanyl overdose and death of a 16 year old child in a room on the property. Plaintiff claimed that Decedent’s traffickers chose the hotel due to alleged security deficiencies, while the defense argued there was no evidence Decedent had been trafficked at the hotel and that the alleged deficiencies were wholly unrelated to Decedent’s accidental overdose.
WWHGD attorneys also argued that Fla. Stat. 768.075(4), which insulates property owners from liability for injury when the claimant is engaged in a felony on the premises, barred Plaintiff’s claim, because the Decedent would have necessarily committed the felony of possession of a controlled substance when she ingested cocaine. Plaintiff argued that evidence of consumption was insufficient to establish possession and that other statutes, which Plaintiff claimed may have protected the Decedent from criminal prosecution had she lived, defeated the application of Section 768.075(4).
After hearing both sides, the Florida District Court held that Plaintiff’s claim was prohibited by the statute, granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and dismissed the case.