Articles Tagged with legislation

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Once again a tourist lured by the thrill of parasailing has ended a ride in the hospital.  This time it was an American woman who was parasailing while on vacation in Mexico. Katie Malone was visiting Puerto Vallarta for her birthday last month when she went parasailing. A model in San Diego, Ms. Malone was suspended in the air when the tow line broke, leaving her floating untethered in the air for about 45 minutes. As ABC News reports, she eventually crash landed and suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured pelvis, skull and ribs, a collapsed lung and facial injuries. She also sustained head injuries that required her being evacuated back to California.

This incident is one of many which have plagued the parasailing industry for years.  Virtually unregulated, someone parasailing can meet a terrible fate any number of ways.  The loss of control from the tow rope is among the worst,a s the parasailor can catapult at high speed into buildings and fixed objects.  Those who land in the water can drown while strapped into the harness or get caught in the parachute.

Following the case involving the tragic parasailing death of Amber May White and injury to her sister Crystal off the coast of Pompano Beach, Florida, Leighton Law’s John Elliott Leighton brought suit against the parasailing company and resort which arranged the amusement.  After successfully recovering for the family, Leighton and Amber’s mother Shannon Kraus fought for passage of the nation’s first parasailing safety law, the White-Miskell Act.  Leighton has lectured and published articles on parasailing and resort safety and continues to fight for strong safety laws for tourists.

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For the first time ever, Florida’s parasailing businesses have to comply with safety regulations.

Florida Statute 327.02 (“Miskell-White Act”) requires commercial parasailing operators to log weather conditions before beginning each parasailing, forbids operations during hazardous weather conditions, and requires operators to be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. It also requires minimum liability insurance, which has plagued this industry where fly-by-night operators opened and closed their businesses at will. Previously this was a completely unregulated industry where anyone with a boat, tow rope and parachute could charge money to take people aloft under any conditions.

John Leighton and our client Shannon Kraus (mother of Amber May White) fought tirelessly for seven years to see this law come to fruition. It is a result of almost yearly tragedies that have occurred during parasailing activities in Florida. In 2007, Shannon lost her 15 year-old daughter Amber May White, for which the new law is named. Amber May’s tragedy just foreshadowed years of repetitive injuries and deaths until Florida’s legislature finally took action.

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Throughout the past 16 months, case after case concerning cruise ship safety has been brought to public attention. Finally, lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate announced legislation on Tuesday that would require information about reported crimes to be made available to the public. To appease the courts and the public, the three largest cruise lines, all based in Miami, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line, have voluntarily agreed to publish these reports.

These reports will include categories required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, concerning sexual assault, theft greater than $10,000, tampering with the vessel, assault with serious injuries, kidnapping, missing U.S. nationals, and suspicious death or homicide. The crime reports are a major step forward for the credibility of cruise lines and will allow the public to make educated decisions when choosing their vacation vessel.

Personal injury attorney John Leighton has a passion for representing individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of others, and has had a front row view of many of the cruise catastrophes that have occurred. Mr. Leighton has won several cases regarding negligence on cruises, including one in which a passenger was struck when a mishandled mooring line snapped and crashed through a window, causing injuries that the cruise line denied. He has also obtained recoveries for passengers who have been injured in falls, sexual assaults and shore excursions gone awry. His experience in representing seriously injured vacationers has resulted in his being named a Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer for several years in a row.