Guest Awarded Compensation for Emotional Distress due to Hotel Negligence

A former guest of the Sofitel Hotel in Philadelphia has been awarded compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence following a court hearing.

In November 2012, Heather Baumgardner was celebrating her thirtieth birthday by staying at the Sofitel Hotel in Philadelphia. On 11th November, at around 4:00am in the morning, Heather´s ex-boyfriend Christopher Werley entered the hotel and identified himself as Heather´s boyfriend and asked for a key to her room.

As Werley was not a registered guest, the front-desk manager made a call to Heather´s room. When she did not answer, the night manager accompanied Werley to her room and tried to gain access using a master key. On finding that the safety chain was in place, the night manager contacted the security supervisor who used bolt cutters to cut the chain and gain access to where Heather was sleeping.

The night manager and the security advisor then left – leaving Werley alone in the room with Heather. Allegedly, Werley went through Heather´s birthday gifts while she was sleeping, and was texting sexually explicit messages to men registered on her mobile phone when she awoke. Heather screamed and ordered Werley to leave. Heather subsequently called the police and claimed compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence.

In her legal action against the Sofitel Hotel and its owners – Accor North America Inc. – Heather claimed that she had suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to its lack of security. An expert supporting her claim reported that the hotel had violated multiple industry and security standards by allowing Werley into her room, while Heather´s lawyer alleged that the hotel had shown reckless disregard and cared more about its profits than the safety of its guests.

The claim for compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence was disputed by the defendants. It was claimed that Heather was not entirely honest about her relationship with Werley (the couple restarted their romantic relationship about four months after the event) and that she had come to no physical harm. The case went to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas where it was heard by a jury before Judge Angelo J. Foglietta.

During two weeks of testimony, Heather´s claim for compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence was supported by her doctor and psychologist – both of whom testified that Heather had suffered from Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder, hypervigilance, and paranoia. At the end of the hearing Judge Foglietta instructed the jury to find in Heather´s favor; and, after five hours of deliberations, the jury awarded Heather $25,000 compensation for emotional distress due to hotel negligence.


Woman Settles Marriott Hotel Injury Compensation Claim

A woman, who suffered a compound ankle fracture when she slipped and fell by the side of a pool, has settled her Marriott Hotel injury compensation claim.

In June 2013, sixty-two year old Michelle Hairston was staying at the Marriott Fairfield Inn in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when she slipped on the wet deck by the side of the swimming pool and fell – suffering a compound ankle fracture.

Michelle – a sales assistant for a major department store – required internal fixation surgery on the ankle; preventing her from driving to work and affecting her ability to stand for long periods of time or conduct her normal day-to-day activities.

After seeking legal advice, Michelle made a Marriott Hotel injury compensation claim against Beach Hotel LLC – the company responsible for the management of the hotel – alleging that the hotel had failed to install a slip-resistant surface by the side of the pool contrary to the local building code.

Beach Hotel LLC denied its liability for Michelle´s injury – contending that the poolside decking was covered by an adequate slip-resistant material, denying that a dangerous condition existed or that it had failed in its duty of care to warn hotel guests of the risk of slipping.

A hearing was scheduled to determine liability at the Horry County Court of Common Pleas. However, prior to the hearing, the two parties sat down to discuss a settlement. Michelle sought compensation for her pain and suffering, her loss of wages and $80,000 in medical expenses.

Beach Hotel LLC felt that the figure Michelle was asking for was too high. The company´s lawyers negotiated a $120,000 settlement of the Marriott Hotel injury compensation claim on the basis that there was no guarantee a jury hearing would find the hotel liable for Michelle´s injury.


Injury Claim for a Slip in a Nevada Hotel Allowed to Proceed

The Nevada Supreme Court has allowed an injury claim for a slip in a Nevada Hotel to proceed after it was originally dismissed by a Nevada District Court.

On 9th October 2010, Sandra Biscay (79) was travelling with her family from California to visit her sister in Las Vegas. Rather than arrive at the sister´s residence late in the evening, Sandra and her family chose to book into the Gold Strike Hotel in Jean, NV, which would leave them a short journey to Las Vegas the following morning.

Due to her mature years, Sandra requested a suite that was suitable for the handicapped. When the family retired later that night, Sandra decided to take a shower; but, as she came out of the shower, she started to slip when she stepped onto the mat. Sandra reached out for something to hold onto, but the bathroom had no railing and she fell.

Initially, Sandra did not think that the slip and fall had caused her any injury; but, when her breathing was labored the following morning, Sandra reported the accident to the front desk, who summoned paramedics. The paramedics suggested that Sandra go to hospital, but as it was unlikely that the Las Vegas hospital would accept Sandra´s Californian insurance, she declined.

Instead Sandra filed an accident report and checked-out of the hotel to continue the journey to her sister. Because of the pain she was experiencing, Sandra was only able to stay in Las Vegas for two days, before returning to California. When she got home, she immediately visited her doctor, who diagnosed her with multiple rib fractures and a sprained shoulder.

After seeking legal advice, Sandra made an injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel against the owners of the Gold Strike Hotel – MGM Resorts International. In her legal action Sandra alleged that the disabled suite she had requested was not suit for purpose, and she supported her claim with the copy of the accident report on which a hotel employee had voluntarily added that the hotel was at fault.

As they were entitled to, MGM Resorts filed a demand for the security of costs in September 2012. Sandra did not file the security until March 2013, and nine days later MGM Resorts moved to have the injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel dismissed – alleging that Sandra had failed to file the security bond within thirty days of the demand notice contrary to NRS 18.130(4).

The Nevada District Court found in MGM Resorts favour and dismissed the injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel; but Sandra appealed the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court – who ruled that MGM Resorts´ motion to dismiss should have been denied, and that the District Court´s decision was an abuse of its discretion.

The injury claim for a slip in a Nevada hotel has now been returned to the District Court for a hearing to be scheduled later this year.


Family Awarded $4.5 Million Compensation for a Bus Accident on Vacation

A judge has awarded a family from Pennsylvania more than $4.5 million compensation for a bus accident on vacation after the negligent party failed to enter a defense.

In October 2012, the Yuschak family from Dresher, Montgomery County PA, was staying at the Los Altos Beach Resort and Spa in Costa Rica. They decided to spend a day on the beach and boarded the resort-owned shuttle bus to take them there – a converted truck with a canvas roof and two horizontal benches for seats.

Access to the beach is via a twisting and turning downhill track and, as the bus approached the foot of the track, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into a tree – flipping the bus onto its side and sending the family flying from their seats to all be on the driver´s side of the vehicle..

The mother of the family – Susan – sustained a depressed fractured of the skull in the accident, while her daughter – Caitlyn – fractured bones in the lumbosacral region of her lower back. Her son – Eric – suffered ligament damage in his left knee, and her husband – James – fortunately suffered no physical injuries.

The family was taken to a local hospital where they received rudimentary treatment for their injuries before Susan was transferred to a regional care center. James took his two children back to Pennsylvania the following day, where Caitlyn received professional care for her back injury and Eric had to undergo surgery to repair his torn ligaments.

When Susan returned to the United States in December, she was diagnosed as having suffered traumatic brain injury. Susan was unable to return to her job as a part-time pharmacist due to her short-tem memory loss and other issues with her cognitive ability. She also suffered from depression and developed suicidal tendencies – affecting the marital relationship with her husband.

The family claimed compensation for a bus accident on vacation against the Los Altos Beach Resort and Spa, alleging that the converted truck was unfit for its purpose as a bus. In addition to claiming for the physical injuries that the family had suffered, James made a claim for the emotional trauma he had suffered and was still suffering as his marriage deteriorated.

The Los Altos Beach Resort and Spa failed to enter a defense against the claim for compensation for a bus accident on vacation, despite being in communication with the Yuschak family lawyer. Subsequently – at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania – Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg entered a default judgment against the resort and awarded Susan $3.4 million compensation for her pain and suffering and her future lost income.

Other awards of compensation for a bus accident on vacation were made to Caitlyn ($700,000) for her back injury; Eric ($700,000) for his ligament injury; and James ($150,000) for the emotional trauma he continues to suffer.


Supreme Court Sends Claim for Knee Injury at Palms Hotel-Casino Back to District Court

The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned a District Court decision in a claim for a knee injury at the Palms Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas and ruled that it should be re-tried.

Enrique Rodriguez was standing at the Sportsbook Bar in the Palms Hotel-Casino on 22nd November 2004, when an actress hired by the Palms Hotel and dressed as a cheerleader threw sports souvenirs to patrons of the bar during the halftime interval of a football game.

As items such as T-shirts, footballs and empty water bottles were thrown into the crowd, a female patron crashed into Rodriguez´ extended and stationary left knee – causing him to fall to the ground where he hit his head against the solid floor of the bar.

Rodriguez claimed that he had suffered knee pain, back pain, neck pain, sleep apnea, depression and obesity due to ingrown toenails as a result of the incident, and he made a claim for the knee injury at the Palms Hotel-Casino alleging premises liability and negligent supervision.

In a non-jury trial in April 2011, Clark County District Court Judge Jessie Walsh found in Rodriguez´ favor and awarded him $6.6 million compensation for his knee injury at the Palms Hotel-Casino which included more than $2.1 million for past and future medical expenses.

The Palms Hotel disputed the amount of the award and appealed the verdict on the grounds that Judge Walsh had excluded testimony by a security official about the crowd control that would have been favorable to the Palms.

At the Supreme Court in Nevada, a three-judge panel ruled that, although the Palm Hotel was still liable for the accident, the claim for a knee injury at the Palms Hotel-Casino should be re-tried at the District Court with a different judge, and without the testimony of a doctor who treated Rodriguez after the accident.


Judges Order Insurance Company to Pay Compensation for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Nevada Motel

Judges have ordered Century Surety Co. of Michigan to reimburse the Casino West Motel in Yerington in respect of compensation for carbon monoxide poisoning in the Nevada motel that Casino West has already paid to the families of victims in the 2006 accident.

In June 2006, Phillip Doll (26), Juan Pablo Chavez (27), Juan´s wife Veronica Espinoza Chavez (20) and their friend Donna Vega-Robles (30) died at the Casino West Motel when lethal fumes from a malfunctioning swimming pool heater entered their room and suffocated them.

It was subsequently discovered that the ventilation system of the room in which the swimming pool heater was situated had been mistakenly blocked off, and the families of the deceased claimed compensation for carbon monoxide poisoning in the Nevada Motel against Casino West.

Between November 2007 and April 2008, Casino West settled the claims made by the four families for undisclosed amounts, and then attempted to recover the amount paid from their insurers – Century Surety Co. of Michigan.

Century Surety denied that it was liable to reimburse Casino West for the compensation settlements it had agreed due to exclusions in its insurance policy which gave it the right to reserve coverage for the claims. Century Surety directed the motel to clauses which excluded the insurance company from liability when injuries were caused due to internal environmental pollution and poor air quality.

Casino West contested the exclusions as “ambiguous” but, in March 2010, the Nevada District Court found in Century Surety´s favor. In October 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit gave Casino West permission to appeal against the decision.

Now the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that where ambiguous language exists, it should be interpreted “to effectuate the insured´s reasonable expectations”. The court ordered Century Surety to reimburse Casino West for the compensation for carbon monoxide poisoning in the Nevada motel it had paid to the victims´ families.


Comic to Receive $1.3 Million Compensation for a Leg Injury at the Bellagio Hotel

Comedian George Wallace has been awarded $1.3 compensation for a leg injury at the Bellagio Hotel after a jury hearing at the Clark County District Court in Nevada.

Wallace (61) made his compensation claim for a leg injury at the Bellagio Hotel after tripping over wires and rupturing an Achilles tendon during a private show at the Bellagio resort in July 2007 for an HSBC Card Services Inc. corporate audience.

At the time the claim was made, both the Bellagio Hotel and HSBC denied their negligence for causing Wallace´s injury; but – prior to the start of the court hearing – Wallace and the HSBC came to a private settlement of compensation for a leg injury at the Bellagio Hotel.

The Bellagio Hotel maintained that they were not at fault for the comedian´s injury and alleged that Wallace was the victim of his own carelessness. Furthermore the Hotel claimed that Wallace suffered from a pre-existing ankle injury that led to a spontaneous rupture of his Achilles tendon when he tripped.

However, after two weeks of testimony at the Clark County District Court and twelve hours of deliberations, the jury returned a majority verdict in favor of Wallace and awarded him $1,308,500 compensation for a leg injury at the Bellagio Hotel; which consisted of $1.2 million for lost income, $100,000 for pain and suffering and $8.500 for medical expenses.

Speaking after the verdict, Wallace – best known for his portrayal of Jerry Seinfeld´s friend – admitted that he had asked for more compensation for a leg injury at the Bellagio Hotel (his lawyer had asked the jury for $7.1 million), but that the case was not about the money and he was satisfied with the jury decision.

He added that he would be glad to work at the Bellagio Hotel again if the opportunity were to present itself.