Collins v. Marriott Int'l, Inc., et al., No. 12-15739 (11th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
David Knowlton, a property owner at the Abaco Club, fell to his death from a rocky cliff (the Point) adjacent to defendant's Abaco Club property on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendants breached their duty to exercise reasonable care to protect the safety of Knowlton as an invitee while on defendants' property. The district court granted defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law and denied defendants' motion for a new trial. The court concluded that the district court failed to consider defendants' separate duty to use ordinary care to maintain the Abaco Club property in a reasonably safe manner to protect against foreseeable dangers on the Point by means other than posting a warning. Therefore, the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law to defendants on the duty owed to Knowlton as an invitee. The district court's instructions to the jury were also erroneous in a similar respect. The court also concluded that the district court erred in granting defendants judgment as a matter of law following trial; admitting toxicology evidence was not error; the district court abused its discretion in not finding that the verdict was the result of an impermissible compromise; and plaintiff was entitled to a new trial on both liability and damages. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.