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Widow Stumbles in Suit Over Snorkeling Tragedy

BROOKLYN (CN) - A pair of resorts in Turks & Caicos are not liable for the death of a man hit by a speedboat while snorkeling with his son, a federal judge ruled.

Mark Wiley Lane, 44, had been staying with his wife and four children at the Veranda Hotel in the Turks & Caicos Islands in March 2012 when tragedy befell their vacation, according to a complaint filed that September.

Lisa Craig says resort staff handed out snorkeling equipment and told her husband that it would be safe to swim in an area past a group of buoys, despite knowing that a swimmer had been killed there in 2006.

Lane was snorkeling with his 8-year-old son when a group of tourists from Beaches, a neighboring Sandals-owned resort, sped through on an inner-tubing excursion, the complaint alleges.

Though he allegedly pushed his son to safety, Lane was hit and died at the hospital a few hours later.

The speedboat's captain was neither a Sandals nor Beaches employee, according to court documents.

Lane's wife argued that Sandals nevertheless "controlled" this captain, and "negligently failed to investigate or vet the skill, knowledge, experience, safety credentials and/or qualifications of its agents ... charged with taking [Sandals] gusts on such seaward excursions."

U.S. District Judge Kuntz II disagreed, however, and dismissed the case with prejudice Tuesday.

"Plaintiffs have not alleged any facts suggesting that Smith required Sandal's consent to perform any particular act, much less captain his boat or take passengers out on excursions," Kuntz wrote.

"At this stage, plaintiffs have ... failed to sufficiently plead agency," the judge added.

Craig's attorney, Diane Paolicelli with Phillips & Paolicelli, has not returned a request for comment.

Judge Kuntz noted that the speedboat captain was not a party to the action, and that "it does not appear that this court could compel his attendance at any trial."

"Without the live testimony of these various witnesses .... justice would be severely hampered," Kuntz said.

As such, "the court finds that the private factors strongly weigh toward dismissal of this action."


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