Marilyn Nieves/iStock(LONDON) — An American man accused of killing a hotel employee who he claims attacked his family in Anguilla is suing the resort company that operates the hotel for negligence.
Scott Hapgood, 44, and his family, who all reside in Darien, Connecticut, filed the lawsuit against Auberge Resorts on Monday in the superior court of California’s Marin County, where the company is based. The complaint alleges negligence in the hiring and supervision of Kenny Mitchel, 27, a former maintenance worker at the upscale Malliouhana Resort in Anguilla, a British Caribbean territory. The Hapgood family is seeking undisclosed damages.
“Auberge Resorts failed to ensure the safety and protection of its hotel guests, the Hapgood family,” their attorney Juliya Arbisman said in a statement. “As a result, Auberge Resorts should be held responsible for the harm that the Hapgood family has suffered.”
Auberge Resorts, which operates the Malliouhana Resort in Anguilla, did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges that Hapgood was with his two daughters in a room at the Malliouhana Resort in Anguilla on April 13 during a family vacation when a man dressed in a hotel uniform knocked on the door “just a few minutes” after the girls walked back to the hotel room on their own. The man, later identified by Anguilla police as Mitchel, allegedly stated that he was there to fix a broken sink.
“In fact, there was no broken sink, and no one had called about one,” the complaint states, “but since Mitchel was wearing the uniform of the luxury resort, Scott allowed him to go in to check on the sink.”
After pretending to inspect the sink, Mitchel allegedly brandished a utility knife and demanded money from Hapgood, who “feared for his life and the lives of his daughters,” according to the complaint. A “violent” scuffle ensued between the two men as Mitchel allegedly stabbed Hapgood with the knife and bit him repeatedly. Hapgood told his daughters to get help, so they ran to the resort’s front desk screaming and crying, according to the complaint.
Hapgood managed to knock the knife out of Mitchel’s hands and pin him down, according to the lawsuit. Other hotel employees eventually arrived, responding to the girls’ calls for help.
“These hotel employees did not respond with any urgency or act particularly surprised at the event,” the complaint states. “They even referred to the attacker by his first name, causing Scott to fear that these other hotel employees were in league with Mitchel as part of an orchestrated robbery. Scott told them that the attacker needed to be put into handcuffs.”
Hapgood’s wife had also returned to the room by this point and she, too, allegedly urged the hotel staff to place Mitchell in handcuffs and call police.
“Inexplicably, the hotel staff did not want to call the police or an ambulance and delayed in doing so,” the complaint states.
Ultimately, the hotel security guard got there and restrained Mitchel until an ambulance arrived. Mitchel died in medical custody about an hour later, according to the complaint.
Hapgood was taken to a local hospital for his injuries and later escorted to the local police station. He was “shocked and surprised” to learn of Mitchel’s death as he was giving his witness statement, according to the complaint.
Hapgood was arrested by Anguillan police and charged with manslaughter. He was ultimately released on $74,000 bond.
Hapgood, who works as a banker in New York City and was put on leave due to the criminal charge, has since returned home to Connecticut. The lawsuit states that Hapgood has gone back to Anguilla three times but decided against returning for additional court proceedings, due to concerns for his safety and doubts of the fairness of the island’s judicial process. He is now considered a fugitive there. Anguilla’s governor and attorney general have both called Hapgood’s reasons for not returning “groundless.”
An autopsy report showed Mitchel died of positional asphyxia and received blunt force injuries to his torso and other areas, according to The Associated Press. However, the Hapgood family’s attorneys claim that a toxicology report showed Mitchel had alcohol and drugs in his system, and that he died from a cocaine overdose. ABC News has reached out to the Attorney General’s Chambers of Anguilla to request a copy of the autopsy and toxicology reports.
Mitchel’s estate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hapgood in the U.S. federal district court in Connecticut. They are seeking monetary damages of more than $75,000.
The lawsuit against Auberge Resorts alleges that Mitchel, a native of the neighboring island nation of Dominica, had been arrested and charged with rape less than three weeks before the alleged attack on Hapgood. Mitchel had also violated his bail conditions and spent additional time in police custody, according to the complaint. The lawsuit alleges that the pending criminal charge should have rendered Mitchel ineligible to work in Anguilla, and thus would have prevented the “nightmare” that the Hapgood family endured.
“Yet Auberge continued to allow him to work for the hotel and have access to its guests, including children,” the complaint states. “The attack and harm to Scott and his family were foreseeable.”
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