From the United States District Court for the District of
Puerto Rico Hon. Marcos E. López, U.S. Magistrate
Roberto Boneta, with whom Boneta & Nogueras, LLC was on
brief, for appellants.
C. Cayere-Quidgley, with whom Héctor J.
Ferrer-Ríos, were on brief, for appellee Universal
Insurance Group, Inc.
Torruella, Thompson, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
Torruella, Circuit Judge.
destination wedding in Puerto Rico can be a wonderfully
jovial affair. Spirits flow freely. The sights are beautiful.
Guests chat and dance into the early morning hours under the
Caribbean sky. Unchecked joviality, however, has an
unfortunate tendency of leading to carelessness. Add an
intentionally wet and soapy dancefloor to the equation and
someone is bound to get hurt. And when someone gets hurt,
lawsuits frequently follow. That is what happened here.
Kristin Blomquist and her husband Kevin Warner filed suit in
the District of Puerto Rico against The Horned Dorset
Primavera Hotel, Inc. (the "Hotel"), claiming the
Hotel was negligent in relation to a slip and fall Blomquist
suffered during their friends' wedding in the Hotel
premises. Blomquist and Warner alleged that the Hotel was
liable for Blomquist's injuries because it did not
respond in accordance with its heightened responsibility
under Puerto Rico law to the presence of a dangerous
condition in its premises __ a wet and soapy dancefloor. The
jury disagreed, and the district court entered judgment
with this result, Appellants moved for judgment as a matter
of law or, alternatively, for a new trial. The district court
denied both motions, finding that the jury's verdict was
reasonably supported by the evidence and that the
Appellants' motion did not provide basis for either a
judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. Blomquist and
Warner appealed, and we now affirm.
Kristin Blomquist and Kevin Warner ("Appellants"),
a married couple from New York, traveled to Puerto Rico on
April 4, 2013, to attend their friends' destination
wedding. Upon arriving in Puerto Rico,
Blomquist and Warner checked into the Horned Dorset Primavera
Hotel,  where the wedding ceremony, banquet, and
reception were to be held on April 6, 2013.
ceremony and banquet were held in one of the Hotel's
ballrooms. After the banquet, the wedding guests moved
outdoors for the reception. The outdoor reception area
consisted of a rectangular space, about thirty-five meters
long and eight meters wide, described as a "plaza"
(the "plaza") and a slightly elevated pool section.
The plaza is located in a space between two sets of stairs,
one leading up to the second floor of the Hotel's main
building, and the other leading up to the elevated pool
section. Here, a bar was set up and a temporary
dancefloor was installed. A DJ set
up his equipment in the elevated pool area, which had been
furnished with tables and chairs. Under the stars, guests
enjoyed an open bar and danced to the DJ's
festivities, however, took a turn for disorder as the night
wore on. The younger crowd of guests that remained at the
reception__ a group of approximately forty-five to fifty
individuals __ began jumping into the pool and transitioning
between the pool and the nearby dancefloor. At some point
between 12:00am and 1:30am, following the bride's lead,
the guests purposefully wet the dancefloor and began to
"slip and slide."They slipped and slid laying on
their front sides, backsides, and sideways. A few of the
partygoers even began running from the top of the pool area
staircase to the dancefloor, in an effort to slide across it.
Hotel's most senior staff member present, Geraldine
Thouvenin, witnessed these actions and proceeded to confront
the groom, Michael Dixon, regarding the guests' behavior.
Thouvenin warned the groom that this behavior was not
recommended and was dangerous. The groom arrogantly
disregarded Thouvenin's warning and, in outright
defiance, went to the Hotel's kitchen, retrieved soap,
and poured it on the dancefloor to increase its
slipperiness. Other wedding guests assisted the groom,
pouring water and soap on the dancefloor to add to the
point after the soap and water were poured, Blomquist left
the reception and pool area to change into her bathing suit.
When Blomquist returned to the reception area, she slipped
and fell on the wet and soapy dancefloor,  fracturing her
wrist and injuring her back.
November 1, 2013, Blomquist and Warner filed a complaint in
the District of Puerto Rico on diversity jurisdiction grounds
against the Hotel and its insurance company, Universal
Insurance Group, Inc. Blomquist and Warner alleged that the
Hotel was negligent in failing to provide a safe facility,
allowing inherently dangerous conditions to continue, and
neglecting to warn all parties at risk. Blomquist demanded
$40, 909.18 in medical damages; $400, 000 for pain and
suffering; $200, 000 for disability to engage in her normal
life and career activities; and $250, 000 for mental
suffering and anguish. Warner demanded $200, 000 for mental
pain and anguish.
two-day jury trial was held on October 4 and 5,
2016. After closing arguments, the jury was
provided a verdict form with the following two-prong question
(the "verdict question"):
Do you find by a preponderance of evidence that The Horned
Dorset Primavera was negligent in the operation of the hotel
facility at the wedding reception held in April 2013, and
that its negligence proximately caused damages to Kristin
jury responded in the negative. Accordingly, the district court
dismissed Blomquist and Warner's claims and entered
judgment in favor of the Hotel and its insurer.
Blomquist and Warner moved for judgment as a matter of law.
In the alternative, they requested a new trial. The district