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Mahaffey v. Marriott Intern., Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 11, 2012

James W. MAHAFFEY et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MARRIOTT INT'L, INC. et al., Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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David C. Silver, Silver Law Group, Coral Springs, FL, Wade John Gallagher, Martell, Donnelly, Grimaldi & Gallagher, P.A., Sykesville, MD, for Plaintiffs.

Michael Jack Budow, Joseph Charles Szczesny, Budow & Noble, P.C., Bethesda, MD, Edward J. Longosz, II, Gabriella V. Cellarosi, Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott, LLC, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST DEFENDANT MARRIOTT

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This case involves a tort action brought by plaintiffs, James W. Mahaffey and his wife Marie Mahaffey, against Marriott International, Inc. (" Marriott" ) and Schindler

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Elevator Corporation. The claims stem from an alleged injury Mr. Mahaffey sustained while exiting an elevator in a motorized scooter at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on July 23, 2009. Presently before the Court is the plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions against Marriott (" Sanctions Motion" ). [Docket # 35]. For the reasons set forth below, that motion is DENIED.

II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND BACKGROUND

As set forth above, plaintiff, Mr. Mahaffey, claims to have been injured at a Marriott hotel on July 23, 2009 while exiting an elevator on his way to his guest room shortly after checking in. Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 10-18. Plaintiff claims that, while exiting the elevator in a motorized scooter, the elevator violently lurched, throwing him off the scooter and causing the scooter to land on top of him, resulting in serious injury. Id.

Plaintiff claims that a bell hop, who rode a different elevator with plaintiff's luggage, came upon the scene, righted the scooter, helped plaintiff back onto the scooter, and assisted him to his room. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff also claims that immediately after the accident, upon arriving at his room, he called the front desk to alert them of his injuries and to obtain medical assistance, and that about an hour later, a hotel security guard came to his room. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Plaintiff further claims that he called the front desk several more times over the next couple of days to obtain medical assistance. Id. ¶ 23. Neither party has provided any evidence that Marriott conducted an investigation into the alleged accident as a result of these contacts, no records have been located indicating that such an investigation occurred, and Marriott has not identified any witness that recalls having conducted such an investigation. See generally, Defendant Marriott International Inc.'s Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions (" Opposition" ) [Docket # 38].

A little more than a month after the alleged accident, on August 25, 2009, plaintiff's then-counsel purported to send a demand letter to Marriott. Sanctions Motion, Exh. E. Plaintiff claims that the letter was sent by certified mail and that he possesses a green card signed by an authorized Marriott employee indicating that Marriott received something on August 28, 2009. Id. Marriott maintains that it has no evidence that it received the demand letter (leaving open the possibility that it received an empty envelope). See Opposition at 3-4 [Docket # 38]. Regardless, although the letter sets forth the name of the plaintiff and the alleged date of the accident, it contains no further information about the nature of the alleged accident, plaintiff's claimed injuries, or where within the hotel the accident is purported to have occurred. Sanctions Motion, Exh. E. Neither party has provided any evidence that Marriott conducted an investigation into the alleged accident as a result of the demand letter, no records have been located indicating that such an investigation occurred, and Marriott has not identified any witness that recalls having conducted such an investigation. See generally Opposition.

Plaintiff filed the current action on May 27, 2011. [Docket # 1]. On October 5, 2011, this Court (Hon. J.E. Boasberg), entered its initial scheduling order which required that initial disclosures be exchanged on or before October 14, 2011. [Docket # 15]. On ...


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