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Daher v. Pacha NYC – Challenges for Foreign Personal Injury Claimants in Florida

Last year, a record 105 million tourists visited the state of Florida. It was the fifth consecutive year for record visitation to the Sunshine State. tourist

Of those who visited:

  • 89.8 million were domestic visitors who traveled to Florida (reflecting an 8 percent increase over the previous year);
  • 11.2 million visitors were from overseas;
  • 4 million visitors came from Canada.

While most tourists enjoy pleasant vacations and return home with a tan and great memories, some unfortunately leave with injuries. When those injuries are the result of someone else’s negligence, navigating the legal system in order to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering can be difficult. You need an attorney who understands U.S. and Florida law and who is well-practiced in representing tourists. 

This is important because we understand that different countries and cultures may have varying perceptions of the seriousness of an injury. There are also certain records and opinions required of doctors and other medical professionals to prove your case. If you have already returned to your home country, it’s imperative to ensure your lawyer can effectively communicate those needs to your doctor. Your personal injury attorney also needs the resources to quickly translate those records and timely submit them to the court. There is also the issue of travel. While our offices can handle most matters here without you, it may be necessary for you to return for certain court dates. Coordinating that with you and the courts requires a law firm that is organized and thorough.

In the recent personal injury case of Daher v. Pacha NYC, timely travel became an issue. The matter was recently considered by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal.

According to court records, in March 2009, plaintiff, a Brazilian citizen, was in Miami to visit a music festival and a party at a hotel in Miami Beach. The party was sponsored by defendant. The day of the party, plaintiff decided he didn’t actually want to go so he chose to sell his tickets near the hotel. Nearby, three employees of promoter (bouncers/security guards) saw his transaction and wrongly believed he was selling counterfeit tickets.

When one of the buyers paid cash for the tickets, one of the employees grabbed plaintiff around the neck and put him in a choke hold. Another took the cash and tickets and ripped the tickets apart. The employees then struck plaintiff repeatedly in the face, causing severe injuries. He received treatment at a local hospital and then received ongoing treatment once he returned home to Brazil.

Plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the employees and the promoter, alleging negligence, battery, assault and conversion. He alleged vicarious liability against the promoter.

Trial was significantly delayed, the court noted, almost exclusively because defendant/insurer kept stalling.

Finally, trial was set for March, but both parties agreed to continue the trial to the next trial docket, mostly because defense had trouble deposing plaintiff while he resided in Brazil. Both agreed a continuance would not prejudice them.

Defendant then moved to strike all pleadings – including the witness list – alleging they had not been able to depose plaintiff. Plaintiff asked for a continuance. Plaintiff’s attorney filed a motion saying he was working to obtain a travel visa and planned to be in the U.S. by March 2, 2015. The previous year, he asked the U.S. government for permission to be in the U.S. for this court proceeding, and he’d even hired an immigration attorney to help him navigate the procedures. However, his visa request hadn’t been granted and he had not been given any assurances of the exact date of his travel approval.

Still, he anticipated his request would be granted and went so far as to buy a plane ticket and book a hotel in Miami. His attorney provided the court with correspondence between plaintiff and the immigration lawyer as proof.

Trial court still decided to dismiss the case for plaintiff’s failure to appear.

Plaintiff appealed, and the 3rd DCA reversed. The court noted plaintiff was not only a party to this case, but a crucial witness. There was no evidence plaintiff’s request for another continuance was a tactical effort and it was clear he’d taken significant steps toward making this trip to the U.S. possible. There was also no indication defendant would have been prejudiced by this.

The court reversed and remanded for trial.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Daher v. Pacha NYC, May 25, 2016, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal

More Blog Entries:

Florida Lawmakers to Study Tossing No Fault Coverage, May 27, 2016, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog

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