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Latino Daily News

Thursday March 10, 2011

Wounded Fisherman Says Travel Agency Should Have Warned Him of Violence in Mexico

Wounded Fisherman Says Travel Agency Should Have Warned Him of Violence in Mexico

Photo: Trophy Bass Lodge in Mexico

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A man who took part in a fishing trip/tour in Mexico is now suing the company that arranged the vacation for negligence after he was shot. His negligence lawsuit states that the tour company failed to warn its customers about the dangers of certain destinations.

Real estate developer, Thorndike Dame planned a fishing trip to Lake Huites, in Sinaloa, Mexico in hopes of catching some of the bass that are abundant in the lake. The trip was booked with Fishin’ Expeditions whose “fishing adventures of a lifetime” are a specialty.

ImageUnfortunately, instead of catching bass on November 14th, 2009, Dame caught a bullet to the face when an unidentified gunman in a small boat opened fire on his boat .

In Dame’s boat was a Chip Laizure, also on vacation, and their Trophy Bass Lodge Guide. The lodge is where Fishin’ Expeditions guests stay.

Dame alleges that he was attacked by two men and that one was armed with an AK-47. Laizure told reporters that Dame fell to the boat’s deck after a bullet hit him in the cheek. “These guys are racing towards us and yelling ‘kneel down’ and ‘get our hands up.’ They board the boat and rob us,” said Laizure. He added that after the men boarded the vacationers’ took the three men’s valuables, they ordered them to an isolated end of the lake. The robbers then jumped out and ran into the jungle.

Six hours later, Dame made it to a hospital in Los Mochis, and his claim states, “As a direct result of defendants’ negligence, plaintiff suffered the aforementioned assault, and the gunman left plaintiff to die in the bottom of the fishing boat.”

Dame is suing Fishin’ and Trophy for $4.8 million in damages, which includes $800,000 to cover past and future medical expenses. His complaint states that Fishin’ Expeditions “were negligent in failing to warn or advise plaintiff of the dangerousness and lawlessness existing in the State of Sinaloa generally, and of the dangerousness and lawlessness existing the Lake Huites region particularly.”

In the past, courts have been split in their decisions determining whether travel agencies are responsible for warning travelers about destinations in which they do not own or operate the land.

In 1992, a New York judge (Loeb v. U.S., 793 F.Supp. 431) said, “[W]here tour companies are not owners or occupiers of property where plaintiffs are injured, the tour operator owes no duty to tour members to inform them of the possible hazardous conditions which may exist on the property of others.”

Sinaloa has been one of the more dangerous states in Mexico, as the country’s most powerful drug cartel is based in there. In 2010, Sinaloa’s murder rate was 81.3 per 100,000 people, and is the third highest in Mexico.

Dame said that had he known how dangerous the area was, “he would not have traveled to the Trophy Bass Lodge for a fishing vacation.”