The sister and daughter of a Georgia woman who fell 30 feet to her death at Prouts Neck in Scarborough a year ago are suing the Black Point Inn for $1 million.

Romona Gowens’ sister, Sonia R. Hall, and daughter, Allison J. Gowens, both of Georgia, filed the suit in Cumberland County Superior Court on Monday against Black Point Inn owner BPI Partners and operator Migis Hotel Group.

Romona Gowens and her sister were guests at the Black Point Inn in September 2022 when Gowens leaned against a fence along the nearby Cliff Walk, it gave way and she fell to the rocks below. She died of her injuries at Maine Medical Center later that day.

The family’s lawyer, Christian Lewis of Hardy Wolf and Downing, told The Forecaster Wednesday that the Black Point Inn encouraged its guests to use the Cliff Walk, touting it as an amenity of the inn, “knowing that it was poorly maintained and dangerous.”

The upscale inn does not own the mile-long trail, but has an easement for a path across private property between the hotel and an entrance to it, according to the lawsuit.

A sign erected at the Prouts Neck Cliff Walk in Scarborough on Sept. 20, 2022, the day after a Black Point Inn guest fell from the trail and died. File photo / Portland Press Herald

Attempts by The Forecaster to contact a representative from the Black Point Inn for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday. A person answering the phone at the inn directed inquiries to the general manger, whose voicemail inbox was full. The manager did not respond to two email requests.


The civil suit seeks $750,000 for funeral and medical costs, emotional distress and loss of comfort, society or companionship; and another $250,000 in punitive damages.

“My client Allison Gowens, who had just become a mother herself, lost her mother. Her child will never know her grandmother,” Lewis said in an email to The Forecaster. “Sonia Hall had to bear witness to the horror of her sister falling and then had to stand by and watch as her sister lay dying on the rocks below her. Helplessly waiting for rescue to descend on ropes in a vain attempt to help her.”

According to the lawsuit, Romona Gowens and Hall traveled from Georgia to the Black Point Inn on Sept. 18 to celebrate Gowens’ 55th birthday on Sept. 20.

Around 10 a.m. on Sept. 19, Gowens and her sister set out for the Cliff Walk. They stopped along the trail to take photos. Gowens, posing so Hall could take a picture of her, leaned against a wooden fence. The wood had rotted, the suit says, and the fence broke, causing Gowens to lose her balance and fall from the cliff.

The Black Point Inn either knew or should have known that the fence was in poor condition, the lawsuit says.

“I’d just like to highlight, and I think our complaint does so, the degree to which the Black Point Inn marketed the Cliff Walk to their clientele while knowing that it was poorly maintained and dangerous,” Lewis said in his email. “This tragedy was avoidable through simple, basic maintenance and precautions.”


As of Wednesday, the Black Point Inn’s website refers three times to the Cliff Walk as one of its amenities, with no disclaimers about any potential dangers.

The Cliff Walk is privately owned and maintained by the nonprofit Prouts Neck Improvement Association.

The association posts multiple disclaimers on the website, including “Rough terrain, loose rocks, erosion, and other dangerous conditions are present and may cause serious injury or death … Users assume all risks associated with their presence on the Cliff Walk.”

The association is not named as a party in the lawsuit.

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