Family Sues Boca Resort Over Failing to Act on Assault of Daughter
BOCA RATON, FL (December 6, 2016) — Mark and Carolyn Goldman of Fountain Hills, Arizona, had just checked into the five-star Boca Beach Club July 26 for a five-day family vacation with their 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, when things quickly went awry.
According to a suit filed in Palm Beach Circuit Court on the Goldmans’ behalf by West Palm Beach trial lawyer Theodore Babbitt of Babbitt & Johnson P.A., this is what happened within an hour of check-in, as the Goldmans waited on couches in the lounge for a table in the dining room on the beachfront property at 900 S. Ocean Drive.
- A highly intoxicated young man at the bar, identified as Lynn University student Scott Louis Samaha, 22, “was assaulting, threatening, harassing an unrelated couple” while the staff did nothing.
- Samaha then turned toward the Goldmans and lurched toward the daughter, soliciting her for sex in a loud and profane manner openly in front of her father, mother, brother, and numerous patrons, saying such things as “Come with me, I want you”, “you are mine,” and other more profane and obnoxious assaults. The mother warned him to back away, but instead he came less than an inch from the child’s face, according to the suit, “coming into physical contact with her with his body and again profanely soliciting sex from her.” Again, the employees failed to restrain Samaha, call security or the police, or extricate from the premises “despite the fact that the girl was scared out of her wits as were all four of the plaintiffs.”
- Mark Goldman then stood up and confronted Samaha, telling him to back away and cease and desist. Again, staff did nothing.
- The 6-foot-1 Samaha, the suit said, then attacked Mark Goldman, 61, with his hands, feet, fists, and teeth. Goldman then engaged in a physical altercation with Samaha for the next 10 minutes in front of family, members, guests, and staff. Samaha regained his footing three times, until he finally hit an object on his way to the floor, bleeding profusely. Again, staff did nothing.
- Finally, the father restrained Samaha on the floor, placing his knee on his back and holding his hair as he screamed at staff to call the police. Only then did they do so.
- After the police were called, employees actually escorted Samaha back to a barstool only 15 feet away while he shouted ”I’ll kill you,” and “you’re dead,” in full view of guests, members, and staff for the next 10 to 15 minutes until police arrived, making no effort to remove Samaha from the room or protect the family.
- Even after police arrived with emergency lights flashing, hotel security was never called. The suit said: “Incredibly, none of the employees ever called security nor did security ever come to see why there were police cars and an ambulance, all with emergency lights flashing at the Beach Club entrance.”
According to the police report, Samaha appeared heavily intoxicated, said that he had had “only two whiskeys” and did not remember the incident, was uncooperative, and yelled that his father, also a member, was “a very powerful member of society.” (Scott Samaha’s father Peter Samaha, is a Boca Raton Resort member.)
The Beach Club is a five-star Waldorf-Astoria resort with the same owners and operators as the nearby 356-acre Boca Raton Resort & Club at 501 E. Camino Real. In one critical section of the suit, the plaintiffs say Samaha had long been banned from the Boca Resort because of “prior incidents of intoxication and/or assault” — including an arrest for trespassing on the premises on December 29, 2015 — and was known to be “habitually addicted to alcohol and drugs.” Despite this, the suit said, the establishment served Samaha drinks even after he clearly entered the Beach Club “either inebriated or drugged.”
The 14-page suit names as defendants: Samaha; Boca Resort operators Waldorf-Astoria Management, LLC and Park Hotels & Resorts Inc., formerly known as Hilton Worldwide, Inc.; and Boca Resort’s owners, the Blackstone Group LP.
The suit cites five counts of action: 1) assault and battery against Samaha; 2) negligent security against the owners and operators, 3) emotional distress by outrageous conduct against the resort owners and operators, “whose conduct, was outrageous in that it went beyond all bounds of decency so as to be regarded as odious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community”; 4) violation by the owners and operators of Florida “dram-shop laws,” which permit liability if a restaurant knowingly serves a person “habitually addicted to any or all alcoholic beverages;” and 5) damages against all defendants.
Police recommended assault charges and referred the case to the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office. According to police report, police did not arrest or book Samaha that night because the PD did not actually witness the incident. According to the police report, a family friend drove Samaha away.
Says Babbitt: “This is a case of privilege over safety, of a club protecting its own even when a 12-year-old girl is being threatened — without the most basic security measures. Most importantly, the club served him two drinks after he came in clearly drunk and seven months after he had already been banned from the Boca Raton Resort premises for his behavior under intoxication, and he was harassing other patrons when the family arrived. All the while, the resort did nothing while this man was a threat to others throughout the Resort properties. This is a needless incident the daughter will remember the rest of her life, and a shocking example of lax security throughout one of the nation’s most prestigious properties.”
Says Mark Goldman: “We were stunned that the resort didn’t do anything to stop him when he was already screaming and acting berserk. Why had the bar served him two drinks after he had already walked in wasted? Why did they even let him in when his behavior had already banned him from the Boca Raton Resort before? My wife and I both said in voices loud enough for everyone to hear: ‘Back off from my 12-year-old daughter.’ Before the police came, two staffers — not from security — had moved him back to a nearby barstool, while he kept shouting at me: ‘You’re a dead man,’ and ‘I’m going to kill you.’ We were amazed they kept him in the lounge less than 15 feet away from us, especially when the staff knew he had a history of this kind of behavior.“
About Babbitt & Johnson, P.A.
Founded in 1968, Babbitt & Johnson focuses on catastrophic injury and significant loss from defective products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical negligence and automobile and trucking accidents, with a particular emphasis on complex litigation. Messrs. Babbitt and Johnson are Board Certified in Personal Injury Litigation. Both are listed in the Best Lawyers in America, and Babbitt is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an invitation-only group limited to the top 100 plaintiff’s lawyers in the United States. Learn more at www.babbitt-johnson.com.
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