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Sailing Toward A Safer Vacation: Parasailing Regulations Begin

Summer 2007 166

For the first time ever, Florida’s parasailing businesses have to comply with safety regulations.

Florida Statute 327.02 (“Miskell-White Act”) requires commercial parasailing operators to log weather conditions before beginning each parasailing expedition, forbids operations during hazardous weather conditions, and requires operators to be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. It also requires minimum liability insurance, which has plagued this industry where fly-by-night operators opened and closed their businesses at will. Previously this was a completely unregulated industry where anyone with a boat, tow rope and parachute could charge money to take people aloft under any conditions.

John Leighton and our client Shannon Kraus (mother of Amber May White) fought tirelessly for seven years to see this law come to fruition. It is a result of almost yearly tragedies that have occurred during parasailing activities in Florida. In 2007, Shannon lost her 15 year-old daughter Amber May White, for which the new law is named. Amber May’s tragedy just foreshadowed years of repetitive injuries and deaths until Florida’s legislature finally took action. Leighton litigated against the responsible parties following Amber May’s death and serious injuries to her sister Crystal.  Ms. Kraus and Mr. Leighton were frequently seen advocating for parasailing safety in the face of repeated injuries and deaths in Florida each year.

It is now up to state and local authorities to enforce the law and up to resort businesses to comply with these common-sense safety regulations. It is our hope that this new law will reduce the injuries and deaths associated with this popular resort activity.


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