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Miami Beach Drownings Result in $5.75 Million Settlement

This is a settlement for the Bad Faith Insurance lawsuit.

A $5.75 million verdict has been reached against Monticello Insurance Company, which had refused to pay a settlement between the City of Miami Beach and the families of Zachary Breaux and Eugenie Poleyeff, who drowned there in 1997.

According to the suit, on February 20, 1997, jazz guitarist Breaux, 36, his wife, and three daughters were vacationing at the Seville Hotel on Miami Beach. Nearby, Rabbi Israel Poleyeff and his wife, Eugenie, 66, had rented lounge chairs and umbrellas behind the hotel.

Strong winds had created dangerous rip currents, though no warning flags went up, as city lifeguards did not protect the beach. That section of beach did have city-managed restrooms, water fountains and parking though. Private beach concessionaires had a shack and buoys in the water and employees who appeared to be lifeguards, but were not, reportedly.

When Mrs. Poleyeff was caught in the rip current, Breaux told his family to get the lifeguards, and entered the water to save Mrs. Poleyeff. Both drowned while Breaux's wife and three young daughters watched in horror.

The case already had created a landmark ruling. In 2005, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that cities, like private landowners, have a responsibility to warn beachgoers of dangerous conditions that are known or should be known.

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Published on Dec-15-09


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