Boy Shot to Death on Class Trip

     BOSTON (CN) – A high school student was shot to death by an incompetent hotel security guard on a class trip to Costa Rica, his father says in a wrongful death complaint against the tour operator, the EF Institute for Cultural Exchange.
     John Johnston sued the tour operator and its alter egos EF Cultural Travel Ltd., EF Cultural Tours GmbH, and EF Travel Inc., in Middlesex County Court.
     He claims the defendants solicited Spanish teachers in his son Justin’s high school for the June 2011 tour of Costa Rica.
     “At the time EF was a self-proclaimed expert in the business of travel agent sales and/or tour operations for students and advertised and promoted itself as one of the largest educational tour companies in the world,” Johnston says in the complaint.
     Students from McLouth High School in Kansas paid for transportation, hotels, meals, and visits to designated destinations. Throughout, Johnston claims, the defendants repeatedly offered assurances that the students would enjoy a safe trip.
     He cites the company’s promotional material, which promised “a hands-on approach to planning and supporting your child’s tour from start to finish, including 24-hour emergency assistance for the duration of the tour.”
     “‘Most importantly, we never lose sight of the fact that you are entrusting is with the safety and security of your child.”‘
     But on June 2, 2011, after Justin left his room with by his friend to visit classmates in a different part of La Cangreja Lodge Hotel, “Justin Johnston was shot by an untrained and unlicensed security guard at the hotel while a lawful patron on the hotel premises,” his father says.
     “Because of the lack of appropriate and adequate emergency and medical resources in Costa Rica, there was a significant delay in obtaining medical emergency case and treatment for Justin Johnston, contributing to his death, by the time that medical personnel did arrive.”
     Johnston claims that “EF knew or should have known that medical services and emergency medical services were not readily available in Costa Rica as they are in the United States. EF also failed to disclose the lack or and inadequacy of emergency medical services to the Johnstons.”
     Johnston seeks more than $5 million in punitive damages for wrongful death, gross negligence, pain and suffering, and violations of Massachusetts law on travel services.
     He is represented by David Angueira of Boston.

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