Ocean Deck Collapses Injuring Restaurant Patrons

Attorney Daniel VillalobosAuthor: Attorney Daniel Villalobos

In June 2013, crowds assembled at Shuckers Bar and Grill, a restaurant in North Bay Village, to watch the Miami Heat play in Game 4 of the NBA finals. Many were on the deck cheering for their team when the deck suddenly broke into two pieces and dumped 100 people into Biscayne Bay. Tables, chairs, light fixtures, planters and other items followed them into the water. Although the water was only about four feet deep, some struggled for air when they were trapped by debris.

Witnesses described hearing a loud crashing noise just before the deck “went down like the Titanic.” The lights went out and rescuers needed the lights from hovering helicopters to help them locate the 33 injured people. At least 24 people were transported by land or air to the hospital. Two of them were in serious condition.

A few days after the accident, 7News discovered that the deck had not been inspected six months earlier when Shuckers received a re-certification. A former Shuckers manager recalled there had been many problems with the 100 feet by 30 feet wooden deck. When screws became loose, it was almost impossible to screw them back in. He said there was a warning sign posted informing patrons that the deck had a 75 person capacity, so he was surprised there were 100 people on the deck who were tossed into the water when it collapsed.

The Bar and Grill was closed for more than a year for repairs. Just before the reopening, the city’s building inspector reported that the 2013 accident was caused when an “aged rusted rebar caused tons of concrete attached to the wooden deck to tear from the wall.”

Premises owners, like the owners of Shuckers, have a duty to provide a safe place for their customers, when they fail in this duty and are negligent, they are liable for the damages suffered by those who were injured. The news reported that dozens of lawsuits were filed by those injured in the deck collapse. As of July 2014, when the bar and grill reopened, many had settled and Shuckers had plans to meet with others in attempt to settle them without going to trial.

The Shucker lawsuits were not handled by our office, but our attorneys are experienced in premises liability lawsuits. If you were injured in a similar type of accident, you may be entitled to collect for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages you suffered. Call our office for a free case evaluation.

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