Major Lawsuit Settled in Arizona

Bailey v Passports, Inc. Sheds Light on Risks Involved in Educational Tours for Students

PHOENIX, Ariz. (March 1, 2011) - Jennings Haug Cunningham finalized the settlement and resolution of Bailey v Passports, Inc., a case involving an international incident where a Dobson High School graduate was struck in the head with a golf club during a street melee that occurred during a post-graduation educational tour across Europe. The injured student was a bystander and was not involved in the street altercation. However, the altercation did involve some of the other student tour members and one of the tour chaperones who were engaged in a fight with local Italian youths outside a night club in Florence, Italy. The blow to the head by the golf club resulted in life altering injuries to the 19-year-old plaintiff. Jack Cunningham, partner with Jennings Haug Cunningham served as plaintiff's counsel in the case, stated that a settlement was reached after more than two years of litigation. The details of the settlement were not disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement.

The suit was filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court on July 7, 2008, one year after the incident. The plaintiff in the case claimed negligence, breach of contract, misrepresentation, consumer fraud and breach of implied warranty. Named as defendants in the lawsuit were Passports, Inc., a Massachusetts corporation that is in the business of organizing, sponsoring, promoting and selling tour packages primarily to high school students; Angela DiMaggio, a former Dobson High School teacher and the tour organizer and leader; and trip chaperone Andrew Morrissey, a 28-year old man with a long juvenile and adult criminal history.

The case also involved an insurance coverage dispute, with Passports' liability insurer denying that it owed coverage to DiMaggio and Morrissey, and seeking to drastically limit its coverage obligations with respect to Passports. When ultimately confronted with a Morris Agreement that had been agreed to in principle by the parties, the insurer reversed its position, acknowledged coverage and negotiated settlement of the claims.

"The disregard for the necessity of competent supervision in this case was clearly demonstrated," said Jack Cunningham, plaintiff's counsel. "It's a shame that this young man's life, and the lives of his parents, were affected so drastically, particularly when the incident could and should have been avoided altogether. I suggest that any parent considering a similar group tour for their child approach the matter carefully and cautiously, and conduct his or her own research into the background of the tour company, and the individuals who are to be in charge of the tour."

The suit cited various examples of wrongdoing by the defendants. Some of these examples included: wrongfully promoting and representing the trip as an educational tour; falsely promising to provide competent and responsible chaperones; falsely promising to promote a safe and secure environment; falsely representing that a low student to counselor/chaperone ratio would be provided; falsely representing and emphasizing that alcohol and drug use by students would be prohibited; failing to conduct background checks on those employed as counselors/chaperones; failing to provide training or establish requirements or standards to be enforced and observed by counselors/chaperones; failing to take steps to remedy, reduce or eliminate risks and dangers even after the problems associated with rampant out-of-control behavior on the tour became well-known to Passports; and failing to take any action to protect the students from the foreseeable harm that could result from these failures.

The insurer, on behalf of Passports, DiMaggio and Morrissey, negotiated settlement of the case for an undisclosed amount.

About Jennings Haug Cunningham, L.L.P.
Founded in 1937 in Arizona, Jennings Haug Cunningham is a litigation law firm with extensive trial, litigation management, dispute resolution and complex litigation experience. The firm's 25 attorneys focus in areas of financial institution litigation, construction and contract litigation, personal injury, employment, and municipal risk litigation for businesses and individuals. For additional information, visit www.jhc-law.com.