512 F.2d 1013 (5th Cir. 1975), 74-1870, Desaric v. Miami Caribe Investments, Inc.

Docket Nº:74-1870.
Citation:512 F.2d 1013
Party Name:Dalila Pardo de SARIC, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. MIAMI CARIBE INVESTMENTS, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:May 09, 1975
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 1013

512 F.2d 1013 (5th Cir. 1975)

Dalila Pardo de SARIC, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

MIAMI CARIBE INVESTMENTS, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 74-1870.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

May 9, 1975

F. Lawrence Matthews, Miami, Fla., for plaintiffs-appellants.

James S. Usich, Coral Gables, Fla., for defendants-appellees.

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before TUTTLE, COLEMAN and SIMPSON, Circuit Judges.

COLEMAN, Circuit Judge:

Appellants, Peruvian citizens, filed suit, in diversity of citizenship, against the corporate owner of a Miami hotel and against its Pennsylvania insurer. Recovery was sought for "negligent infliction of mental distress" (appellant's terminology) and for the value of property robbed of appellants while they were guests in the hotel on January 21, 1971.

After discovery and depositions the District Court granted a defense motion for summary judgment. We affirm in part and, in part, vacate and remand.

Dalila Pardo de Saric and her daughter, Luz-Maria Saric, registered at the McAllister. They were assigned Room 1049, were escorted to that room immediately after checking in, remained in the room for some forty-five minutes to an hour, and upon opening the door to leave for the first time since registering were met by two masked robbers, one of whom was armed with a handgun.

By the menace of the gun the robbers forced their way into the room. There is no evidence that either of the victims were ever struck or jostled with the weapon. One of the intruders forced Luz-Maria Saric into the bathroom, where she fainted and fell to the floor. Upon regaining consciousness, she was examined by one of the robbers for hidden jewelry. Dalila Pardo de Saric was required to lie on the floor, with gun to her head, while jewelry, money, and travelers checks were taken from her purse.

During discovery the following interrogatory was propounded to Dalila Pardo de Saric:

"6. Describe the injuries you received in the incident described in said complaint, stating exactly what parts of the body were involved and the nature of said injury (whether it was a bruise, fracture of a bone, sprain, or otherwise)."

Dalila de Saric answered under oath:

"6. I injured my finger producing small cuts, taking my ring out from it."

Luz-Maria testified in her deposition that neither robber struck, hit, or abused her, that she received no physical injury as a result of the robbery, but she alleges that she suffered a traumatic neurosis accompanied by physical manifestations such as dyspepsia, trembling, hyperventilation, flatulence, and difficulty in swallowing

Appellants have framed the appellate issues in the following language:

1. Whether mere impact, without signs or marks of physical injury, is sufficient to maintain an action for the negligent infliction of mental distress under the law of Florida.

2. Whether Florida statute § 509.111 applies to the facts of this case.

3. Whether the statute violates the Florida Constitution.

4. Whether the statute violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The above mentioned Florida statute limits a hotel's liability for the loss of money or valuables by its guests to those items deposited with the hotel management in exchange for a written receipt stating the value of the property deposited. 1 The hotel is mandatorily required

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to accept for safekeeping valuables aggregating no more than $1,000 in value. Liability for loss is limited to $1,000 unless the hotel voluntarily accepts a greater amount, Florida statutes, § 509.111 (1972).

Florida law...

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