Articles Posted in John Van Hoy

Suction Entrapment Death Law Firm.jpgThe resort injury lawyers of Brais Brais & Rusak were successful in convincing a Federal court to apply Florida law to a death that occurred in the Bahamas. The case of John Van Hoy, Jr. is heartbreaking. John was on vacation with his fiancée Nicole at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort located Nassau. During his stay, he decided to refresh himself in one of the resort’s hot tubs. As he went under to wet his hair, he became entrapped on the bottom suction drain. Despite the efforts of many people, including other guests at the Sandals’ resort, John remained stuck on the bottom of the hot tub until he drowned. John died that night leaving behind two sons, his mother, father, siblings and Nicole. His death occurred because the hot tub was outfitted by a 12″ x 12″ flat drain cover, the motor / pump assembly were not equipped with a vacuum release system, there were no emergency shut off switches located around the hot tub and it is believed the pump room was locked delaying the shut off of the motor.

Brais Brais & Rusak were hired to represent John’s estate and family. The law firm filed a wrongful death action in Miami, Florida against multiple defendants including: (1) Sandals; (2) the drain cover and pump manufacturer Hayward; (3) the motor manufacturer A.O. Smith as well as the component part distributors Hospitality Purveyors and SCP Distributors. In an effort to significantly reduce the amount of any awardable damages to the Van Hoys, Sandals sought application of Bahamian law to the lawsuit. Under Bahamian law, saviors cannot seek damages for emotion pain and suffer for the death of their loved one and the estate cannot claim damages for any pre-death pain and suffering. As a result, the application of Bahamian law would reduce the Van Hoy’s claim to the amount of the wages John would likely earn in his lifetime and burial expenses. The issue was taken up by the Court in a pretrial motion. Brais Brais & Rusak argued the United States, particularly Missouri and Florida, has a more significant relation to the case than the Bahamas and United States law should apply. The Court agreed with our legal analysis and issued an order finding both Florida law will apply to this case.

This was Brais Brais & Rusak’s second major victory in this case. Last year Sandals and other defendants attempted to dismiss the case in its entirety requesting the case to be tried in the Bahamas. This motion was denied and the case was allowed to proceed in Florida.

Resort and vacation injury lawyers Keith S. Brais and Richard D. Rusak of Brais Brais & Rusak recently won a significant victory in Miami Federal Court in a lawsuit involving the December 28, 2010 hot tub entrapment drowning death of John Van Hoy, Jr., father of two adopted children. See, attached Order dated March 22, 2013 and photo to right.

Vacationers Beware – When You Vacation in the Caribbean, Sandals Resorts Will Argue You No Longer Have A Right to a Jury Trial in the United States

Sandals Resorts heavily advertises in the United States. Historically Sandals Resorts has earned tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. vacationers lured to its Caribbean resorts. Sandals Resorts and its sister company Beaches have their sales and marketing agent, Unique Vacations, Inc., a mere stone’s throw from the Miami International Airport. See, photo below:

Estate of John Van-Hoy, Jr., et. al. v. Sandals Resorts International, Ltd., Unique Vacations, Inc., Hayward Industries, Inc., A.O. Smith Corp., Pentair Water Pool & Spa, Inc. & Sta-Rite Industries, LLC.

John Van Hoy v. Sandals Hot Tub Drowing.jpgWhile enjoying a once in a lifetime trip with his fiancée, Nicole Cleaveland, John Van-Hoy, Jr., drowned when he became entrapped in a spa pool at the Sandals’ Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. On December 28, 2010, at the end of the day, John was in approximately 3 ½ feet of water in a small circular hot tub / spa at the Resort, while Nicole relaxed nearby. John submerged his body under the warm waters, but never came up. As it turns out, his body had been “sucked” onto the single suction outlet drain at the bottom of the hot tub.

Although he was 33 years old, a former all-state baseball player, in excellent shape, and could bench press over 300 pounds, John could not free himself. Nicole, realizing something was horribly wrong when John did not re-surface, tried unsuccessfully to free John from the suction forces generated by the spa’s pump and water circulation systems. In response to Nicole’s screams for help, five or more heroic guests jumped into the hot tub but collectively also could not free John from the suction outlet drain at the bottom of the spa. Complicating matters, experts who have visited the Resort concluded, amongst other things, that there was no nearby emergency shut-off switch to turn off the spa’s suction pump in time to save John’s life. Ultimately, Nicole watched her fiancée die before her eyes. John left behind two boys, ages 15 and 5, his fiancée, two sisters, a brother and his parents.