A Massachusetts man left paralyzed from the neck down after diving into shallow water off a Key West resort’s pier in 2015 is suing the company’s owners for not having posted signs warning of such dangers.
Bernard J. Barlow III, whose family and friends call him Bob, wants the Galleon Resort and Marina, the Sunset Tiki Bar and Grille and Key West Interval Management to pay for the severe injury that has left him unable to breathe without a ventilator.
Six companies in all, including the Cook Group, which owns the Tiki Bar and the Galleon marina association and condo association, “should have known that there was a high likelihood that” tourists such as Barlow would dive into the shallow water and hurt themselves “if not appropriately warned or prevented from doing so by a sign, barrier or employee,” the lawsuit states.
Filed July 15 at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, the case was assigned to Circuit Court Judge Timothy Koenig.
Barlow, who is married and has two children, was visiting Key West on April 9, 2015, with friends to celebrate his 40th birthday. The group spent the afternoon relaxing on the waterfront deck and Barlow had been swimming. At one point, Barlow dove from the deck into the water, striking his head on the hard bottom and suffering a spinal cord injury.
As a tourist to Key West, Barlow didn’t know the dangers of diving into shallow water from the Tiki Bar’s deck, say his attorneys, led by Stuart Grossman’s law firm in Coral Gables.
“Due to his injuries, Mr. Barlow is now paralyzed from the neck down, with little chance of recovering any movement or feeling in his limbs,” the suit reads.
The defendants haven’t yet responded to the lawsuit in court.
The Tiki Bar area lacked any signs about diving into shallow water, Barlow’s attorneys say.
“Nor were there any barriers or appropriate guardrails to prevent Tiki Bar patrons and/or hotel guests of visitors from diving off the deck into the shallow water,” reads the suit.
A Go Fund Me page set up for the Barlow family on Tuesday had raised $135,360 over the past 15 months with a goal of $150,000. The page includes a video of Barlow and his wife Stacie, and kids Jake and Reese, and mentions Barlow is an Iraq War veteran.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen