Judge Allows Pita Weber & Del Prado and Ratzan Law Group to Seek Punitive Damages Against Shuckers in Catastrophic Deck Collapse
One year after the catastrophic waterfront deck collapse at Shuckers Bar and Grill, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Arzola has granted joint lead counsel Howard K. “Skip” Pita and Stuart N. Ratzan’s motions to add claims for punitive damages to a lawsuit alleging Miami-area Shuckers Bar and Grill consciously ignored years of rust and decay and for years chose against replacing or repairing its waterfront patio deck before it collapsed into the surrounding water causing the severe injuries of dozens of customers.
The decision comes after Judge Arzola examined evidence and reviewed deposition testimony during a hearing to determine if Shuckers’s alleged conduct was either intentional misconduct or constituted gross negligence. “This vindicates the importance of our jury system for the safety of all of us who live in or visit Miami Dade County. Our system in general, and punitive damages in particular, deter this type of conduct that sacrifices safety in favor of profits,” says Miami, Florida personal injury lawyer Howard K. “Skip” Pita.
“If our justice system ignored this type of conduct, then our system would condone massive bridge collapses, building failures, catastrophic injury and death,” adds Stuart Ratzan who is representing several victims in legal action against Shuckers with Skip Pita. “Thankfully this ruling gives us a chance to enforce the rules and make sure something like this never happens again in Miami,” Ratzan stated.
The incident occurred while fans cheered on the Miami Heat against San Antonio Spurs during the 2013 NBA Finals last June. In a matter of seconds, the deck collapsed into the bay’s waist deep water and close to 100 people found themselves amid sharp debris, furniture and even the actual wooden deck itself. According to the complaint, Shuckers Bar and Grill which will reopen in July, utilized its patio deck to serve food and beverages to multiple patrons, despite knowing the deck was not properly maintained and in state of disrepair.
According to the lawsuit, records show that Shuckers had knowledge of this defect for 7 years and chose not to initiate the repair work, follow through on it permits, or warn its customers and continued business as usual allowing the deck to collapse and harm its patrons.
“Businesses are all free and encouraged to make money, but when people intentionally neglect safety in favor of making money, that is called greed. It is socially unacceptable, and it breaks the rules of our society,” says Ratzan. “If the legal system holds wrongdoers accountable for breaking the rules, then the message is loud and clear that we will not tolerate this type of neglect or behavior in the future. This message makes us all a little safer.”
While the Miami Heat face the San Antonio Spurs again at this year’s NBA play-off finals seeking their successive championship, the fans affected in the Shuckers deck collapse begin a new battle to rebuild their lives.
Pita Weber & Del Prado, recognized as Top Lawyers by the South Florida Legal Guide for the past decade, are skilled at obtaining maximum recovery by thoroughly and vigorously representing members of their local community in serious personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. The firm also provides contingency-based representation in other areas, such as commercial litigation and insurance disputes. For additional information, call 305-670-2889 or visit www.pwdlawfirm.com. Connect via Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn.
Ratzan Law Group is a boutique trial practice that is dedicated to giving a powerful voice to those who would otherwise have none. It champions its clients’ cases against powerful interests, including insurance companies, hospitals, manufacturers, doctors and corporations. The firm focuses its practice on medical malpractice, product liability and commercial trials. For additional information, call (305) 374-6366 or log on to www.ratzanlawgroup.com. Connect via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.