Hall County

Family awarded $16M from Lake Lanier’s Margaritaville after child’s near-drowning

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Three years after a child nearly died while swimming at Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands, a Gwinnett County judge awarded the child’s family millions of dollars in a settlement agreement.

According to court records, the child nearly drowned at Paradise Beach, part of the Margaritaville waterpark.

After the incident, the family sued Big Island LLC and other companies that do business as Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands, alleging lifeguards did not respond appropriately to the incident and that resuscitation efforts were not adequate. They alleged the companies were liable for the situation, which left the child disabled.

In their request for relief and lawsuit, the family of the child cite similar incidents at the same facility involving fatal drowning incidents.

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Responding to the lawsuit’s allegations, Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands argued in court that the injuries and alleged damages suffered by the child at the waterpark were not the result of negligence or inaction by the business.

Instead, the company said the incident was the result of “an independent intervening cause,” and argued that the plaintiffs suing Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands had failed to exercise ordinary care, and were themselves negligent, for the injuries the child sustained.

As a result, the company said the family was not entitled to any damages or claims stemming from the incident at the waterpark in 2019.

Part of the defense against the lawsuit included the family’s acknowledgment that lifeguards were not assigned to the beach in July, and the beach area was in a “swim at your own risk” location at the time of the incident.


Additionally, the company’s own filings say that staff provided CPR to the child, and noted that the incident was a non-fatal drowning event at Paradise Beach. They denied all claims and allegations as baseless.

After multiple years of litigation, the plaintiffs suing Margaritaville and others over the incident reached a consent judgment for damages.

According to the judgment, the plaintiffs were awarded $16 million, though it comes with a stipulation that the judgment is “not construed as a dismissal or a discharge from liability, but instead as a legal resolution of liability,” according to law.

In response to a request for comment from Channel 2 Action News, Buck Perry, the Vice President of Margaritaville at Lanier Islands said the business “places the overall safety of our guests as our highest priority.”

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