We initially covered this incident back in 2020. Universal Orlando has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a 27-year-old man who died by suicide in a fall from Universal’s Aventura Hotel.
According to a police report, Matthew Bahna (Matthew) died on the 12th August, 2019, after scaling an 8-foot glass wall at Bar 17 Bistro on the 17th floor of the Aventura Hotel and falling to his death, This tragic incident occurred at about 12:30 am, according to the report.
His father, Alfred Bahna (Alfred), sued several companies involved with the hotel, including Universal Orlando and Loews Corp., in Orange Circuit Court back in 2020. Bah sought damages in excess of $30,000. For those that might not know, Loews Corporation owns the hotel.
Matthew’s father alleged that the open-air rooftop Bar 17 Bistro lacked sufficient barriers and the bar’s employees severed him too many drinks over a short timespan, causing Matthew’s judgement to be “substantially and significantly impaired” leading up to his death.
The companies involved in the lawsuit denied the allegations in court. However, the case/lawsuit was dismissed on the 6th September after all parties involved reached a confidential agreement during mediation on the 3rd August. Court records don’t show the terms of the settlement.
The lawyer representing Alfred, Michael Bailey. declined Orlando Sentinel’s request to discuss the outcome of the lawsuit. For the record, the established Orlando-based newspaper initially reported the news of the settlement.
Additionally, the lawyer representing Universal Orlando and Lowes Hotels didn’t respond to Orlando Sentinel’s request for comment. The representatives for the companies also didn’t respond to the established newspaper’s request for comment.
In the lawsuit, Alfred claimed employees severed his son six drinks over 90 minutes and didn’t check to make sure Matthew left the bar after it closed at midnight. He said Universal Orlando should have trained employees to stop serving clients after a certain number of drinks and to secure the rooftop bar to keep guests safe, records indicate.
Universal Orlando and the other companies involved should have taken further precautions to make sure guests could not climb over the bar’s glass walls, such as by making the walls taller or installing “anti-climb roller bars” on them, the lawsuit stated.
Records show the companies denied these allegations and responsibility for Matthew’s death in court. They said bar staff saw him behaving normally prior to his death, and the bar was constructed to code with the city of Orlando’s approval.
After the death of their son, Alfred and his wife, Kerry Bahna, visited the bar and were surprised by the lack of safeguards there, Alfred told Orlando Sentinel back in 2019. They said they wanted Universal Orlando to install more safety features, like “a net, more security [or] spikes on the top of the wall” to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.
A spokesperson for Universal Orlando didn’t respond to the established newspaper when asked if the hotel had installed additional safety features at the bar since August 2019.
Matthew, nicknamed “Waffles” for his love of food, was a gifted musician and taught himself to play guitar, Alfred said back in 2019.
Back in 2020, Matthew’s parents started a non-profit called The Waffles Foundation in his memory. The organisation donates musical instruments to kids in need.
“[Matthew] would want us to go on; and the music to never stop,” Alfred wrote on the foundation’s website.
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RELATED: Father Sues Following Son’s Suicide Jump at Universal’s Aventura Hotel
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H/T Orlando Sentinel