Articles Tagged with sexual abuse lawyer

The Hyatt Hotel corporation is facing a federal lawsuit in Florida for the alleged sexual assault of a minor at one of its resorts in the Bahamas.

As our West Palm Beach sexual assault attorneys can explain, thousands of people are attacked at hotels, motels, casinos, and resorts in the U.S. every year. Survivors of sexual violence have the right to pursue justice in criminal courts, but they can also file claims for monetary damages in civil court. Civil claims aren’t always (or even mostly) filed against the attacker. More often than not, Florida civil sexual assault claims target businesses or organizations that failed in their duty to protect the victim.Hotel sexual assault South Florida

This case against the Hyatt isn’t even all that unique. Our legal team is aware of a similar civil claim filed against the same hotel chain in an Illinois federal court following a sexual assault in Turkey. The hotel tried to get that claim tossed, arguing Illinois was an inconvenient forum to resolve the matter. However, the trial and appellate courts declined requests to remove the claim for jurisdictional reasons, and the matter proceeded.

In the more recent matter, V.H. v. Hyatt Hotels Corporation, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, the plaintiff is the father of a minor who was staying at the hotel as a guest with her family. According to court records, the victim briefly left her hotel room in the early morning hours to call a friend. She left barefoot, fully anticipating returning to her room within a few minutes. However, she was approached by a 58-year-old Bahamian local, who struck up a conversation and then lured her to a closed poolside cabana. There, according to the complaint, he overpowered and raped her.

By this time, her father had already gone looking for his daughter. He was able to locate her using the pinpoint technology on her cell phone. He entered the cabana to find the sexual assault in progress. The father ripped the attacker off his daughter, who was disheveled, curled up on the ground, and crying. The rape was immediately reported to authorities, and the attacker was arrested and charged with statutory rape. He is awaiting trial in the Bahamas, set for May.

According to the civil complaint, the attacker should never have been at the resort at that hour to begin with. The rape occurred at a time when restaurants and bars were closed. The casinos were still open, but the attacker, under Bahamian law, was not allowed to gamble. Further, he was also known to be a small-time drug dealer. There was no legitimate reason, the plaintiff argued, for the assailant to be on the property when he was.

Plaintiffs allege the assailant was likely there for the purpose of targeting a young victim. The hotel chain knew or should have known he may have nefarious motives, plaintiffs allege. The company advertises itself to families as a purveyor of fun, safe family vacations. And yet, when this incident occurred, there were no security personnel present to prevent or intervene in the rape of a minor on its property. Plaintiffs allege the hotel chain failed to take both reasonable and necessary precautions to protect guests, causing this child to suffer an event that was painful, traumatizing, and permanently life-altering. Continue reading

Sexual cyberhassment, more commonly known as revenge porn, is when someone posts or distributes intimate videos, photos, or images of another person online without their consent and with the intention to harass or upset that person. In general, when a person gives consent for a depiction of themselves in a sexually explicit image, the reasonable presumption is that they expect that image is going to remain private – even if they share it with someone else, such as an intimate partner. Violation of that trust is cyber sexual harassment.West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyer

As a crime, sexual cyberharassment in Florida is a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, per F.S. 784.049. Identifying information of the person depicted is a key element in the charge, as is the intent to cause emotional distress.

In addition to seeing justice through criminal charges and penalties, victims are within their rights to pursue monetary damages against the offender. As our Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, the statute explicitly grants victims of this crime the right to initiate a civil action against the person who broke the law for various remedies, which may include:

  • Injunctive relief. This is an order to prevent, stop, or command certain behaviors.
  • Monetary damages of up to $5,000 or actual damages incurred as a result of violation of the law – whichever is greater. Damages can include things such as medical bills, lost wages or employment, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
  • Reasonable attorney fees and costs.

There may be additional avenues  in civil court to pursue for compensation in a case of sexual cyberharassment, but it will depend on the exact facts of the case and whether other entities had any degree of control over the offender. In particular, we’d be interested in analyzing whether the incidents occurred to any extent in the course and scope of employment. If an employer ignored a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace, there could be liability. Businesses have a responsibility to hold employees accountable for sexual harassment once it’s been reported. Schools, too, may be liable if they were made aware of a problem and failed to address it. Continue reading

Ongoing testimony of sickening abuse of U.S. Olympic gymnasts by an organization doctor has led to demands for significant change in sports organizations. Collegiate-level sports organizations should take heed, especially as a new study by the non-profit Lauren’s Kids revealed 1 in 4 current and former college athletes surveyed reported experiencing sexual assault or sexual harassment by someone on campus who was in a position of power. That is compared to 1 in 10 in the general student population. Palm Beach sexual abuse attorney

In other words, college athletes were 2.5 times more likely to encounter sexual abuse than their peers.

Coaches, it was indicated, were the most commonly-identified group of abusers.

USA Today reported this fact with a number of anecdotes from high-profile cases in recent years. Among those: Continue reading

A judge in California recently fined rideshare giant Uber nearly $60 million and threatened to suspend its license to operate in the state if the company refuses to pay the penalty and respond within 30 days to questions regarding the company’s records on sexual assaults.South Florida sexual assault lawyer

As our South Florida civil trial sexual assault lawyers know, a safety report released by the company last year revealed some 6,000 sexual assaults that were reported to Uber in connection with rides between 2017 and 2019.

As a public service provider, Uber and other ridesharing companies undoubtedly have some responsibility to keep customers safe. The extent of this responsibility, though, is part of what is being litigated in hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits across the country. Continue reading

It’s one of the largest child sexual abuse scandals in U.S. history, yet for years, victims were made to feel as if they were the only one. As the deadline looms for filing civil liability claims of sexual assault and abuse against Boy Scouts of America, systemic problems within the youth organization are proving worse than many ever realized. South Florida sexual abuse lawyer

The Scouts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and protection earlier this year, amid a sharp decline in membership as well as a flood of sexual abuse claims. As our civil trial lawyers can explain, bankruptcy places an automatic hold on all pending lawsuits while global settlements are negotiated. The bankruptcy also compels victims to have their case handled in a single federal bankruptcy court rather than in state courts across the country. It also allows the agency to reorganize and restructure its finances while continuing operation. A trust has been established from which victims of abuse who file civil claims will be able to collect compensation.

Claims filed in bankruptcy court, once vetted, will be paid by Scouts organization (which has more than $1 billion in real estate assets) and/or their insurers through the established trust. We saw this same type of bankruptcy restructuring/trust with the mass torts of asbestos liability. Dozens of Catholic dioceses that had been accused of liability for child sexual abuse have also used it.

Some are predicting that tens of thousands of new claimants will meet this month’s deadline in the Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy case. The Los Angeles Times reports there could be more claims filed in this bankruptcy than in all the previous Catholic Church bankruptcies combined.

Our South Florida sexual abuse attorneys recognize this overwhelming response underscores that the problem of abuse in youth organizations is one that demands greater attention and accountability.

Victims of abuse suffer years with guilt and shame. Some have contracted sexually-transmitted diseases. Many who are now older have wrestled with addiction, alcoholism, anger and difficulty maintaining close relationships. Some victim family members allege the pain was so great, the victims took their own lives. Continue reading

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