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Cormier v. Marriott International

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 6, 2019

KIRK CORMIER
v.
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, et al.

         SECTION “F”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Marriott International and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED, in part, as to all claims against Marriott International, and DENIED, in part, as to all claims against the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

         Background

         A hotel guest slipped and fell in the bathroom of his hotel room. This lawsuit followed.

         Kirk Cormier's first visit to New Orleans did not go as planned. But it began well enough. Cormier arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel of New Orleans on the afternoon of October 4, 2017. He checked in, took a walk, and bought dinner. He ate in his room, brushed his teeth, and then went to bed. An unremarkable evening. Other than some damp carpeting, he noticed nothing unusual--no leaks or other issues warranting a call to maintenance.

         The next morning, Cormier went into the bathroom to shower and shave. He pulled the plunger on the sink (so water could collect in the sink bowl), turned the water on, and began to shave. Before he finished shaving, he turned on the shower. He resumed shaving and, when he finished, depressed the plunger on the sink so that the sink bowl could drain. He then stepped into the shower. About fifteen minutes later, he finished showering, dried off, and stepped out of the shower and onto a bath mat. He took one or two steps off of the mat, slipped, and fell on his back. He lay there for several minutes, allegedly in great pain.

         Eventually, Cormier dragged himself into the bedroom. As he did so, he noticed water “all around” him. He identified the source as the “gooseneck” pipe beneath the bathroom sink. Now outside the bathroom, Cormier crawled towards the room's phone, hoping to summon help. But the phone did not work. So, he tugged at his bedsheets, causing his cellphone to fall to the floor, within his reach. He called a colleague staying at the hotel, and the colleague called the front desk and reported Cormier's condition.

         Emergency medical technicians arrived a few minutes later. Cormier declined a trip to the hospital; he instead rested on the bed in his hotel room, hoping the pain would subside. As he rested, two hotel maintenance technicians arrived to inspect the bathroom. Cormier told them to fill the sink bowl with water and then “see if it leaks.” Although Cormier did not see the technicians test the leak, he heard them say, “Oh, yeah. Big leak.”

         The room's maintenance history report reflects that this incident generated the first and only complaint of a leak in the bathroom's under-sink pipes. Indeed, a member of the Ritz-Carlton's cleaning and repair crew inspected the room on September 7, 2017, about a month before Cormier's alleged fall. She says she noticed no leak after “inspect[ing] the faucet, wash basin[, ] and draining capability of the sink in the bathroom . . . including fully filling the basin with water and unplugging the drain[.]” She insists she would have notified the Ritz-Carlton's engineering department of any leak she discovered.

         Cormier sued the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott International for negligence under Civil Code Article 2315. He says they knew or should reasonably have known about the leak in the pipes beneath the sink, which created an unreasonably dangerous condition causing his fall.

         Now, the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott International move for summary judgment. They contend that Cormier's negligence claims fail because he cannot prove that they knew or reasonably should have known that the under-sink pipes leaked. Marriott International contends, separately, that it cannot have liability for Cormier's alleged injuries because it did not own, operate, or manage the Ritz-Carlton. Cormier opposes.

         I.

         Summary judgment is proper if the record discloses no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). ...


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