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Jeffers v. Kerzner International Hotels Limited

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

July 23, 2018

MAURA JEFFERS, Plaintiff,
v.
KERZNER INTERNATIONAL HOTELS LIMITED, a Bahamian company; KERZNER INTERNATIONAL BAHAMAS LIMITED, a Bahamian company; KERZNER INTERNATIONAL RESORTS, INC., a Florida corporation; HARBORSIDE AT ATLANTIS DEVELOPMENT LIMITED, a Bahamian company; HARBORSIDE AT ATLANTIS MANAGEMENT LIMITED, a Bahamian company; HARBORSIDE RESORT VACATION OWNERSHIP ASSOCIATION LIMITED, a Bahamian company; BROOKFIELD ASSET MANAGEMENT, INC., a Canadian corporation; BROOKFIELD HOSPITALITY PROPERTIES, LLC, a Delaware company; STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS WORLDWIDE, INC., a Maryland corporation; VISTANA SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES, INC., a Delaware corporation; and VISTANA VACATION OWNERSHIP, INC., a Florida corporation. Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          JAMES LAWRENCE KING UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUIDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon Harborside at Atlantis Development Limited, Harborside at Atlantis Management Limited, Harborside Resort Vacation Ownership Association Limited, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Vistana Signature Experiences, Inc., and Vistana Vacation Ownership, Inc.'s (collectively, "H, S & T Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 16) and Kerzner International Hotels Limited, Kerzner International Bahamas Limited, Kerzner International Resorts, Inc., Brookfield Asset Management, Inc., and Brookfield Hospitality Properties, LLC's (collectively, "K & B Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 23). Plaintiff filed her Response in Opposition to both Motions to Dismiss (D.E. 35). The H, S & T Defendants filed their Reply (D.E. 36). The K & B Defendants also filed their Reply (D.E. 37).[1] Plaintiff obtained leave from the Court and filed her Surreply to the K & B Defendants' Reply (D.E. 40).

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint on April 3, 2017, purporting to allege a cause of action for negligence. Therein, Plaintiff alleges that she was staying at The Harborside at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Nassau, The Bahamas on May 21, 2013. At approximately 11:35 p.m., Plaintiff slipped and fell on the bathroom floor of her guestroom.

         The two Motions to Dismiss make three identical arguments: (1) forum non conveniens; (2) failure to file within the statute of limitation; and (3) failure to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The H, S & T Defendants also argue failure to properly plead punitive damages.

         II. Legal Standard

         In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept a complaint's well-pled allegations as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Such allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1288 (11th Cir. 2010). "In analyzing the sufficiency of the complaint, [the Court] limit[s] [its] consideration to the well-pleaded factual allegations, documents central to or referenced in the complaint, and matters judicially noticed." La Grasta v. First Union Sec, Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004). The Court may also consult documents that are attached to the motion to dismiss under the "incorporation by reference" doctrine. The Eleventh Circuit has defined the incorporation by reference doctrine to mean:

[A] document attached to a motion to dismiss may be considered by the court without converting the motion into one for summary judgment only if the attached document is: (1) central to the plaintiffs claim; and (2) undisputed. ... "Undisputed" in this context means that the authenticity of the document is not challenged.

Horsley v. Feldt, 304 F.3d 1125, 1134 (11th Cir. 2002) (internal citations omitted); see also Day v. Taylor, 400 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2005).

         III. Discussion

         Arguing that Bahamian law applies, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs claim is time-barred.

         a. Choice of Law

         A federal district court sitting in diversity must apply the choice of law rules of the forum state. Trumpet Vine Investments, N.V. v. Union Capital Partners I, Inc., 92 F.3d 1110, 1115 (11th Cir. 1996). As a preliminary matter, the Court determines whether the issue sounds in tort, contracts, property law, etc. Grupo Televisa, S.A. v. Telemundo Communs. Grp., Inc., 485 F.3d 1233, 1240 (11th Cir. 2007). "In the context of tort actions, Florida resolves conflict-of-laws questions according to the 'most significant relationship' test." Id. The test involves consideration of four relevant factors: (1) the place where the injury occurred; (2) the place where the conduct causing the injury occurred; (3) the domicile, residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of the parties; and (4) the place where the relationship, if any, between the parties is centered. Michel v. NYP Holdings, Inc., 816 F.3d 686, 694 (11th Cir. 2016).

         Generally, in tort cases, the location where the injury occurred is the decisive consideration in determining the applicable choice of law. See Bishop v. Fla. Specialty Paint Co., 389 So.2d 999, 1001 (Fla. 1980). "[T]he place of injury is of particular importance in the case of personal injuries and of injuries to tangible things." Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws ยง 145 cmnt. f. In this case, as Plaintiff slipped and fell in The ...


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