Lawsuit unfolds over alleged filth in Biltmore, as hotel industry remains understaffed amid pandemic
Hotels have been understaffed since March 2020, and now questions about their cleanliness have reached the courts.
A Miami case awaiting trial involves plaintiffs who say they found their 2-year-old with a “used condom thrown in” in his mouth while vacationing at the Biltmore Hotel.
Eric W. Boyer and Valerie Jackson, partners at Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer in Miami, represent the parents, Kathleen Hanrahan and Matthew McDarby, and their daughter.
The couple took the 2-year-old from New Jersey on vacation to stay as a guest at the famous Coral Gables hotel owned by the Biltmore Hotel LP
Litigants said the parents chose to stay at the Biltmore Hotel because it claimed it was an “industry leader” in “cleaning and sanitizing protocols.” However, they said their clients’ dream vacation got worse on Christmas morning.
“A hotel has a duty to keep a clean room, but there is an increased duty if it claims to be the cleanest, most virus-free hotel,” Boyer said. “The truth is, they don’t clean rooms. As the staff has been reduced they had better be careful what they advertise.
Evan Marowitz, a partner at Cole, Scott & Kissane who represents the Biltmore Hotel in the dispute, did not respond to a request for comment.
Standard of recourse
Angela C. de Cespedes, a partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr in Miami, is not involved in the case. But she noted that hotels have had to deal with their guests’ fear of the spread of the coronavirus, which has affected the ability of most hotel companies to stay full.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released its survey of job openings and workforce turnover on Tuesday, confirming that hotels and other businesses in the hospitality industry continue to struggle to stay in line. full. The survey showed that an unprecedented 892,000 workers in the hospitality industry left their jobs in August.
However, de Cespedes said real estate owners like hotels are not insurers of their clients’ safety. The standard is one of recourse: they must take reasonable steps to ensure that the property is safe and their guests do not sustain injuries, but that doesn’t mean the hotel must prevent any accidents.
“Obviously they were in the room for a while before that happened, and they don’t spell out what it is, which I guess means it doesn’t help,” said by Cespedes. “Besides that, how long has the child been out of sight? Where did she get into what they claimed she had entered? And they have no way of knowing, which is another major weakness in their case, where the condom was when she picked it up.
De Cespedes, who has defended hotels in litigation for more than two decades, said the details she referred to are essential for the lawyer for the Biltmore hotel in his defense of the plaintiffs’ claims.
Industry standards require the cleaning crew to pick up a foreign object for all to see, but is not responsible for lifting a plant or digging into a sofa to find trash, regardless of the advertisements of the hotel.
No punitive damages
The first round of litigation seemed to go to the hotel.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Carlos Guzman quashed the plaintiffs’ claim for misleading advertising and punitive damages before the case went to a jury.
This leaves Boyer and Jackson with the task of proving that the Biltmore Hotel is responsible for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Read the order:
After hotel staff removed the condom from the room, parents claimed that they quickly found several sharply-edged pieces of broken glass.
And that prompted the hotel management to provide a new room for the family. But soon after, the parents alleged that cockroaches had infested the new room, according to court documents.
“Everything is going very badly,” said Boyer. “The hotel gave them a written apology, but their vacation turned into a nightmare.”
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