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Travel, Tourism and Hospitality

Walsworth’s travel, tourism and hospitality team, with more than 20 years of collective experience, has acquired a unique understanding of the industry. This knowledge helps guide us in effectively representing each client, however complex the issues facing our client may be. We have earned a reputation for proven results, dedication to our clients, professionalism and compassion.

We represent a wide variety of clients in litigation and transactional matters, including:

  • Travel Agencies
  • Tour Operators
  • Destination Management Companies
  • Travel Wholesalers
  • Local Ground Operators
  • Cruise Lines
  • Insurers
  • Hotel Operators

With respect to litigation, we handle a wide variety of claims including wrongful death, catastrophic injury, premises liability, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act involving domestic and foreign travel. We handle all aspects of these cases in state and federal courts, private arbitrations, and mediations. Our lawyers have also handled disputes between travel agents and the Airline Reporting Corporation and various air carriers, and have represented clients in the United States Department of Transportation administrative proceedings.

Throughout the litigation process, we focus on early evaluation and resolution of cases in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible. We have successfully enforced forum selection clauses, releases of liability, and arbitration agreements through pre-trial motions such as motions to dismiss, demurrers, motions to stay and compel arbitration and motions for summary judgment. In addition, we have successfully extinguished service of California summons on out-of-state and foreign citizens and entities based on California courts’ lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non-conveniens. We have extensive experience with the primary assumption of risk defense which may limit liability of travel agents and tour operators in connection with claims by participants of adventure travel activities.

We also regularly advise and counsel clients on risk management issues, releases/waivers and terms and conditions, supplier contracts, and compliance with seller of travel laws.

Representative Successes

  • Cheng, et al. vs. Ritz Tours, Inc., et al. – Represented a tour operator where over 40 plaintiffs claimed a tour to China was not of the quality that it was allegedly represented to be in advertisements. The court sustained the tour operator’s demurrer without leave to amend.
  • Gordon v. Lost Frontiers – Represented a tour operator in case involving adventure travel to Algeria and Niger where four plaintiffs claimed they did not see enough camels and were required to take land travel when the airport in Niger was closed. The court dismissed one plaintiff, and the other three plaintiffs settled for nuisance value.
  • Hisano et al. v. HIS International Tours LA, et al. – Represented tour operators in case brought by a husband and wife who claimed they suffered severe physical and emotional injuries because they were passengers on a tour bus which crashed resulting in the deaths of several individuals. The court sustained the tour operators’ demurrer without leave to amend.
  • Kalter v. Grand Circle, LLC, et al. – Summary judgement granted on behalf of a tour operator in case where the plaintiff suffered severe personal injuries including paraplegia after falling while climbing the “Floating Steps” in Machu Picchu, claiming breach of duty to warn by tour operator and negligence by the tour leader.
  • Lhotka v. Geographic Expeditions – Successfully negotiated a settlement for a fraction of the original demand in a wrongful death case involving a climb on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
  • O’Keefe v. Inca Floats, Inc., et al. – Summary judgment granted on behalf of a tour operator in case where the plaintiff claimed she was raped on a cruise ship.
  • Phayer v. Allianz Global Assistance – Represented a travel insurer in a case where plaintiffs claimed travel agency failed to purchase two refundable roundtrip airline tickets to Australia but instead purchased two less expensive non-refundable tickets and a travel insurance policy, and then pocketed the difference. The travel agency submitted a travel insurance claim for cancellation coverage on behalf of the plaintiffs and cross-complained against the insurer based on its denial of the claim. The court sustained the insurer’s demurrer and motion to strike without leave to amend.
  • Ramage v. Forbes International, et al. – Represented a tour operator and local ground handler in a case where plaintiff claimed head injuries arising from alleged negligence by a tour operator and local ground handler. The court granted summary judgment as to all causes of action against tour operator, and granted the motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over local ground handler.
  • Rollins v. McCoy Enterprises, Ltd., et al. – Represented a travel agency in case where the plaintiff sustained injuries to several fingers on her right hand while exiting a dive boat in Fiji following a shark dive. The case settled for nuisance value.
  • Sawyer v. Japan Airlines International Company, Ltd., et al. – Represented a travel agency in case where the plaintiff claimed the agency failed to request proper identification, allowing his son to be kidnapped by the plaintiff’s former spouse. The court sustained the travel agency’s demurrer without leave to amend.
  • Prickett v. Multiple Defendants – Complex maritime case involved claims arising from incomplete paraplegia and related decompression injuries plaintiff suffered while filming underwater footage for an advertising video. The case resolved on the second day of jury deliberations to the client’s satisfaction.
  • Plaintiff v. Tour Operator – Plaintiff alleged injuries from a slip and fall at an event organized by the tour operator client. A summary of applicable law and evidence was provided to plaintiff’s counsel, along with evidence establishing that plaintiff consistently supported the client before and after she was allegedly injured, gave positive reviews of the client’s program on which she was allegedly injured and subsequently participated in other events organized by the client. Plaintiff’s counsel agreed to dismiss client before client’s deadline to file a responsive pleading.
  • Plaintiffs v. Tour Operator – Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action after the father drowned in the ocean during the family vacation in Costa Rica. Plaintiffs alleged that a representative of the client company specifically recommended the beach where the incident occurred. Client filed a motion to enforce a forum selection clause that required all litigation to be filed in Colorado. The court upheld enforcement of the forum selection clause despite plaintiffs’ argument that it was an unenforceable contract of adhesion. Plaintiffs appealed the trial court’s order dismissing the case and the Second District Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.