Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley Files Suit for Plaintiff in Parasailing Death Case

Case Underscores Dangerous Absence of Regulation in Florida

Jun 12, 2013, 11:35 ET from Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- South Florida law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA (Searcy Denney) has filed suit on behalf of Stephen Miskell, the husband of a Connecticut woman who was killed in a parasailing accident while she and Mr. Miskell were vacationing in Florida.

Kathleen Miskell, 28, died after dropping from her harness and plummeting nearly 200 feet into the ocean off Pompano Beach on August 15, 2012, while her husband watched from above. Mr. and Mrs. Miskell were harnessed to the same boat on a tandem parasail operated by Waveblast Watersports II, Inc.

Waveblast Watersports II, Inc.; Sands Harbor Inc., the resort where the parasailing company operated; Custom Chutes, Inc.; VL Gaskin T/A Waterbird Parakites; Casey Fuller; and Jeffrey Zabadal were all named in the case, Stephen Miskell v. Sands Harbor. Inc. et al., CACE-13-013187, Judicial Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, in and for Broward County, Florida.

"Kathleen's death is a tragedy that shines a cautionary light on the very serious dangers of this unregulated and unchecked recreational activity," said Searcy Denney attorney Karen Terry, who represents Stephen Miskell. "Her death, and others, would have been prevented if proper regulations were in place."

Last month, a bill sponsored by Florida State Senator Maria Sachs (D-Boca Raton) was blocked by the Commerce and Tourism Committee. The bill would have required parasail operators to carry insurance; banned parasailing when wind gusts exceed 25 miles per hour; and entirely prohibited the activity in rain or fog, or when lightning occurs nearby. It was the second bill proposing such regulations that has been rejected since.

"The rejection of these regulations by the Florida State Legislature is unconscionable," added Ms. Terry. "The unfortunate decision, which exposes others to significant injury and death, seems to reflect a misguided resistance to intelligent regulation of any sort. In this case, one might also conclude that powerful hotel industry interests have an added economic incentive to allow these life-threatening risks to go unmonitored."

The Parasail Safety Council, an agency that tracks parasailing injuries and deaths, reports that more than 70 people have been killed and at least 1,600 injured between 1982 and 2012. There have been four deaths in Florida in the past two years.

It is a national issue, considering how many tourists visit Florida from every part of the country and around the world. "Florida attracts millions of people each year, and thousands partake in on-the-water activities such as parasailing. Until further regulation is passed, all are at risk," said Ms. Terry.

The plaintiff is seeking a substantial compensatory damage verdict. The plaintiff will be asking for punitive damages as well.

"Make no mistake, those who believe that parasailing must be governed by reasonable regulation are not going to give up the fight on the legislative front either," said Ms. Terry. "We will continue the battle in Tallahassee as well as in courts of law."

For further information, contact Justin Wilson at 202.973.1324 or

About Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA
A nationally recognized trial law firm, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA is committed to protecting victims of negligence, defective products and corporate wrongdoing. Over the past 35 years, the firm has represented clients in courtrooms throughout Florida and across the nation.

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