As hundreds of basketball fans packed into Shuckers Waterfront Grill to watch the Miami Heat fight for their playoff lives, the last thing they expected was that they would be fighting for their own collective lives. Tragically, that is what happened when a waterfront patio deck collapsed into Biscayne Bay.
Shuckers is a popular sports bar located in North Bay Village, at 1819 79th Street Causeway. The sudden and unexpected collapse happened about 9:45 p.m. Witnesses’ said that one second everyone was cheering, and the next second they were gone. As the deck collapsed, power was lost, and the injured were cast into the water and darkness of Biscayne bay. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Eugene Germain Jr. said approximately 100 people were on the deck when it fell into the water.
As people fell into the water they were trapped underneath each other, under tables, and other debris. As of late last night 15 people were transported to hospitals, with at least 2 dozen injured.
While the cause of the collapse is under investigation, the most likely cause is that the deck was over capacity. Notwithstanding same, Florida Law is clear in that a premises owner has a non-delegable duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes an obligation to inspect the premises, and to warn patrons of a dangerous condition.
Just last October a parking garage collapsed at Miami Dade College. The victims and their families filed Personal injury and Wrongful death lawsuits which were recently settled.
In the event the deck at Shuckers was over capacity, there may be enough grounds to argue for punitive damages.