Florida hotels get slapped with lawsuits for endangering guests and their personal property all the time. Less common, though, are the lawsuits filed by supermodels and multimillionaires who claim that their lavish hotel parties end in high dollar theft.
That is exactly what happened after millionaire British investor Oliver Ripley checked in at the Marriott hotel in South Beach, Miami along with his wife, Brazilian supermodel Jeisa Chiminazzo.
They say they’re missing nearly a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of watches and that it’s all the Miami Marriott’s fault. Do they have a case?
As Miami premises liability attorneys, we’re intrigued. Let’s take a closer look.
Big-Spender South Beach Party That Ended in Theft
Jeisa Chiminazzo recently turned 30 and her husband wanted to celebrate in style. After some research, they concluded that the Marriott in South Beach, Miami offered the kind of luxury they were looking for, so they decided to spring for the works.
Chiminazzo and Ripley rented out the resort’s ice rink, bowling alley, and bar, and invited 75 of their friends to fly in from all over the world.
While the power couple and their guests were partying the night away — dancing to a live performance from celebrity DJ Paul Oakenfold — thieves allegedly slipped inside their hotel room.
How did that happen? The couple claims that their hotel room door didn’t lock properly when they left, allowing easy access to their belongings while no one was home.
Indeed, the hotel’s security log shows that someone may have entered the room and locked its door from the inside during the course of the party. When the couple returned later, they found that several of their watches were missing.
These weren’t ordinary watches, mind you. Daily Mail reports that they were among the most sought-after watches in the world. They had been given to the couple as gifts.
Now Chiminazzo and Ripley have filed suit in the amount of $800,000 — a sum that includes punitive damages and distress in addition to the value of the watches themselves.
Chiminazzo and Ripley have pledged to donate any proceeds from the lawsuit to charity.
Was the Miami Marriott Negligent?
“’This is more than a dispute about a couple of watches,” the couple told the press through their attorney. “This is a lawsuit about a hotel that markets itself as a modern and sophisticated facility where its guests can feel safe and secure.”
So was it really the hotel’s fault?
For their part, the couple claims that the Miami Marriott:
- Knew that there were issues with their doors failing to lock properly and failed to address them
- Failed to install security cameras in the hallways
- Allowed non-guests to roam the hallways without a key or security clearance
All of those allegations, if true, would tend to weight in the superstars’ favor. Indeed, if the door locks were, in fact, defective or if the couple can show that the hotel had prior knowledge of security concerns at the hotel, they’ll have a strong case.
Of course, if the hotel can demonstrate that the couple simply failed to close their door, liability will be harder (though still not impossible) to establish.
While the outcome of the Miami Marriott case remains uncertain, this much is clear: Florida hotels have a non-delegable when it comes to protecting guests and their property.
As Florida premises liability attorneys, we’ve a helped a number of victims recover considerable damages after a premises failed to keep them safe from theft, injury, or harm.
Florida property owners have a duty to address known or foreseeable hazards and make reasonable efforts to ensure the safety of the public.
If you or a loved one has suffered any kind of injury or hardship while staying in any of Miami’s many hotels or other accommodations — even if your damages don’t quite add up to a celebrity’s watch collection — our office can help. We take negligent security very seriously.
Call our Miami premises liability attorneys at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC today.