Archive for January, 2010

Choice of Forum – Deciding where to sue American Airlines, in Jamaica or the United States

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

In December 2009 many passengers were injured in an American Airlines crash at the airport in Kingston, Jamaica. Liability, or whether or not the crash was caused by pilot error, mechanical failure, or any other reason is likely to be one of the main issues in any suit brought by victims of the crash before the amount of damages suffered by the victims will be considered. However, before the issues of liability or damages may be considered, any court in which the claim is filed may first have to deal with the issue of jurisdiction and venue. Is the suit filed in the right country, right state and in the right court?

Issues of jurisdiction and choice of forum depends on many factors. However, the primary factors are easily identifiable and can and should be considered by the injured and their attorneys at the early stages of the case. Jurisdiction in the United States is divided into two areas, personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction is the court’s authority over the parties in a case, whereas subject matter jurisdiction is the court’s jurisdiction to hear the subject issues of the case. Victims of the crash in Jamaica can either bring their case in the courts in Jamaica or the United States and either court system will have jurisdiction over them as plaintiffs, and over American Airlines as it does business in both countries and can expect to be held accountable in either place.

Subject matter jurisdiction is a bit trickier. While there may be little doubt that the Jamaican courts have subject matter jurisdiction over any claims that the victims can bring against American Airlines, some victims may want to file a claim in the United States for many reasons. For example, the court system in the United States may process the case faster than the Jamaican courts, the jurisprudence may be more settled and easier to navigate in the United States, and the likely to resolve the case may be greater in the United States. Others may choose to file their claim in Jamaica for other reasons. Before this decision is made, a thorough analysis of the benefits of each system should be made by the attorney and explained in clear easy to understand language to the victims so that an informed decision can be made by the victims.

Defences to Dog Bite Claims in Jamaica, West Indies

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

While the law creates strict liability for injuries caused by dogs, as all that is necessary is for the party suffering from a dog bite is to show that the fact of the injury and that the person is the owner of the dog, it does not create absolute liability in that the owner or deemed owner of the dog has Defences which he may raise.

The owner or deemed owner of a dog may, in his Defence, raise the point that the person who was bitten was a trespasser on the premises. A person is a trespasser on premises if he was not given permission to be there, for eg. a burglar. If he is bitten by a dog on the owner’s premises then he is taken to have consented to being injured as the owner would then have no responsibility to keep the dog chained or away from a trespasser who had no right to be there. Naturally if a person is invited to the premises, then the owner will be liable for any injury caused as he has a duty to his guests to ensure their safety.

Contributory negligence may also be a Defence raised by the owner or deemed owner of the dog. This Defence entails showing that the person injured contributed to his own injury. This means that the injured party either did something or did not do something which partly caused the dog to bite him. This could take the form of children, or even adults, teasing a dog or a person ignoring a sign that there are dangerous dogs on the premises.

Another Defence available to the owner or deemed owner of a dog is that the injury was caused by the act of a stranger or the act of an intervening third party. This may take the form of another person untying a dog thereby causing it to escape and bite a person either on or off the premises. It may also include a person leaving the gates of the premises open and the dog leaves and bites someone on the road. This Defence is only available however if the owner can show that he had done everything reasonably possible to prevent third parties from meddling with the dog and thereby causing the dog to injure another person.

An owner or a person who could be deemed the owner of a dog should therefore take due care that his dogs are either kept within the gates of his premises or if there are visitors they should ensure that the dog is chained or kept in a place away from any visitors to the premises. In all the circumstances those who seek to enter premises that have dogs should take extra care. Indeed, a word to the wise is sufficient.