Sandy Lane Hotel is currently being sued by a customer who fell from the table while receiving a massage in the hotel spa. The guest a Mr. Patrick O’Connor sued the hotel when he got back home, and he did so in the courts at home. Sandy Lane successfully argued that the US state court had no jurisdiction over an event that happened in Barbados. Mr. O’Connor appealed and the appeals court ruled that because the transaction was arranged by the O’Connors at home and the hotel mailed them a brochure that sufficient activity had taken place in the Pennsylvania jurisdiction for the court to have standing.
Now of course courts in Barbados like most courts in the British Commonwealth do not award damages for emotional pain and suffering. Of course Pennsylvania courts do (as do all US Courts) Also a US jury is more likely to be swayed by the hometown plaintiff against the foreign defendant. Both sides are likely to fight this one to the finish
The implications of this case are wide reaching, any company selling services to American citizens from anywhere on the planet may find themselves subject to a United States court. In effect will the US court system set itself up as being a global arbiter?
Would the US be willing to let American citizens be subject to foreign courts if the circumstances were similar? I think not.
You can bet this will be appealed again (and again)(and again) it will be an interesting one to watch.
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