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May 13, 2022

Questions Remain After Three Americans Die at Sandals Resort in Bahamas

beach chairs on tropical beach

Bahamian Police have identified three American tourists – Michael Phillips, his wife Robbie Philips, and another vacationer, Vincent Chiarella, who all died at a Sandals Resort last week. At present, the cause of death is unknown as investigators look into several possibilities such as food poisoning, issues with the air conditioning, or pesticide exposure. We’ll look at what’s presently known in this tragedy and what to do if you’re ever hurt at a hotel or resort. 

What Happened at Sandals Bahamas?

Sandals Emerald Bay is touted as an absolute paradise where, much like a cruise, everything is included in the cost of a guest’s stay. Guests can enjoy the many different pools, leisure activities, fine dining at several restaurants, drinks, and endless fun in the sun all without ever leaving the resort. But last week, what was meant to be a wonderful and relaxing trip turned tragic in an instant when three separate people died and another was left critically injured. 

According to reports from various news outlets, the victims seemed to have experienced convulsions before succumbing to an unknown condition that led to their deaths. The husband and wife who died were travel agents and had posted numerous pictures on social media of all the amenities the Sandals Emerald Bay had to offer. The other man who died was on vacation with his wife, who herself was rushed to the hospital in a serious but stable condition after the still-unknown incident took place. Bahamian Police are looking at several causes such as the food supply for the resort, carbon monoxide poisoning from a malfunctioning air conditioning unit, or even exposure to toxic levels of pesticide.  

Not the First Death or Severe Injury at a Sandals Resort

In 2010, a vacationer at another Sandals Resort was relaxing in the hot tub and went under to wet his hair. As he did so, he was sucked under water by the floor drain in the hot tub and became entrapped. Despite the heroic efforts of several other people nearby, they could not free the man in time and he drowned in the shallow waters of the resort’s hot tub. The estate of the man filed suit against both Sandals Resort and the spa’s various manufacturers in U.S. court, but the resort fought this since they are a Jamaica-based corporation. 

Since the incident took place in the Bahamas, the case would fall under Bahamian legal jurisdiction which has different laws that can significantly limit how much the victim’s family could recover. Fortunately, an appeal to the U.S. District Court in Miami found that because the resort sourced most of their customers from the U.S. and since all other parties named in the lawsuit were based here, that the case should be heard on U.S. soil. In the end, the victim’s family was awarded a generous settlement for the tragic and untimely death of the victim within the American court system.   

Farah & Farah Has Handled Catastrophic Injuries in the Bahamas Before

When accidents occur outside the U.S., cases can be more complex as they are often subject to the laws in the country where the accident took place. Farah and Farah has direct experience in the Bahamas when American tourists have been hurt while on vacation. 

In 2019, a bus carrying passengers on a shore excursion from the Jacksonville-based Carnival cruise ship, Ecstasy, crashed en-route, leaving three passengers seriously injured. With cases like these involving Americans in a foreign country, we associate with local attorneys to bring our clients justice. That means we get to bring all of our resources and experience to bear to fight for our clients even though their accident occurred in a different country. 

Leading Farah and Farah catastrophic injury attorney, Matt Grossman, explains, “We associate with local counsel to get cases like these done. We’ll do everything we can to hold them in U.S. court but if we can’t, we will take the fight to their home.”

What to Do if You’re Hurt on a Cruise, at a Resort, or on Vacation

Getting hurt while you’re away from your home can be a scary experience, especially if it’s in a foreign country. Tourists and Floridians alike travel all around the Sunshine State and beyond each year on vacations they thought would be a restful and relaxing getaway. 

If you ever find yourself hurt after a hotel or resort stay, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself and the possible recovery you may be able to pursue, including:

  • Seek immediate medical attention and ask for a copy of all of the treatment files. Keep these secure.
  • Document where the injury took place with your cell phone. Try to capture what led up to the accident looking for things like water on the floor or a broken staircase that made you fall. The more pictures and videos you can take of the scene the better.
  • Try to get the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses who saw what happened to you. 
  • Request all accident-related documents (e.g. ask the resort for a copy of the injury report, get a copy of the police report, etc). Keep all of these files secure.

In the end, obtaining maximum compensation is about telling the story of what happened to you within the bounds of the law. We’ve seen time and again where unscrupulous property owners try to cover up the causes of an accident after the fact so do your best to document as much as possible while everything is still fresh. 

Hurt at a Hotel or Resort? Let’s Talk About Your Case.

Since Florida has some of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., we see a lot of extra traffic throughout the year. The attractions are spectacular but more traffic means more chances for accidents while vacationing at a hotel or resort. If you’re ever hurt while on vacation and getting the runaround from some faceless corporate legal team, it’s time to schedule a quick conversation with an accident attorney. We have years of experience holding big corporations accountable when someone is hurt on their property. When you call, click, or come in, we can review the details of your case completely free of charge and discuss possible actions you can take to move forward.

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