Notes From The Margin

August 7, 2007

Barbados’ Sandy Lane Hotel Sued – Does Pennsylvania Law Apply?

Filed under: Barbados,Capitalism,Caribbean,law,Sandy Lane,tourism,USA — notesfromthemargin @ 2:12 am

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.

For further reading check out:

Barbados Advocate: Based on Recent Ruling Sandy Lane May Have To Fight Its Case in Pennsylvania

Wall Street Journal: Law Blog: Civil Procedure Final Exam Question: Personal Jurisdiction

Law.com: Firm Founder’s Shower Fall Leads to Significant Jurisdiction Ruling at 3rd Circuit

MoreLaw.com:Patrick J. O’Connor and Marie M. O’Connor v. Sandy Lane Hotel Co., Ltd.

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1 Comment »

  1. Now Please Mr O’Connor.
    YOU came to Barbados! YOU got a massage and YOU fell off the table. So who is to blame? YOU!
    US courts, TAKE YOUR PLACE! You have no jurisdiction here. NONE! NADA! ZILCH!
    If he( the plaintiff) wanted to launch a legal process to recover whatever damages he thought were appropriate, there are at least 100 good lawyers here who he could have spoken with and who would have advised him on his legal recourse.
    Why then did he wait to get back home to PA and attempt to file a lawsuit from his own “backyard”?
    Perhaps you, Mr O’Connor were advised that a suit of that nature here in Barbados is considered frivilous and without merit and that it would not stand the test of our judicial system, so you took your chances with YOUR own court system hoping beyond hope the US courts could derive some sort of justice for you.
    Now, this should set a precident in two directions should this suit be marginally successful at recovering damages for the plaintiff. That precident should work like this.
    When Barbadian visitors to the US experience slips, falls and other mishaps while on US soil, they should be able to come back here and get our judicial sustem to work on their behalf against the US based concern responsible for their respective mishaps. That action should take the form of a suit leveled agains the party or parties concerned and settlements whould be paid to the plaintiffs in the form of US dollars, and should be tax free. I could see the US court judges having a harty laugh at such a thought.

    Mr O’Connor. You came to Barbados and stayed at the islands top resort. You enjoyed one of the services of the resort and were possibly so relaxed that you fell asleep and fell to the floor. So you got more than you paid for. A massage, and some “bounce” therapy.
    Now, you’re a stronger person for it!

    Comment by TheWatcher — August 15, 2007 @ 9:11 pm | Reply


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