Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Widow Can’t Sue Hotel Over Scuba Death

(CN) - A Washington woman whose husband died on a scuba-diving trip will not be able to sue the hotel that organized the excursion, the 9th Circuit ruled.

Ricardo Loya was staying at the Westin Resort in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. He drowned after his underage scuba guide abandoned him.

Loya's wife filed a Death on the High Seas Act lawsuit in Washington state court, which also included claims under the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Timeshare Act.

But the trial court dismissed the case, ruling that a more appropriate forum would be found in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Judge Rymer of the San Francisco-based federal appeals court affirmed the decision, rejecting Loya's argument that the forum non conveniens doctrine should not be used to prevent her from pursuing a Death on the High Seas Act complaint.

"Baja California Sur is where the scuba diving trip was arranged, documented, outfitted, undertaken, and investigated," Rymer ruled. "We cannot say the court acted unreasonably in deciding that these circumstances made Baja California Sur a more convenient and appropriate forum."

Judge Kleinfeld dissented.

"I have not found precedent for so aggressive an exclusion of American plaintiffs from American courts under the (forum non conveniens) doctrine in any other case, and I think it is mistaken here," Kleinfeld wrote.

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