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Beckwith v. Interstate Mgmt. Co., LLC

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 4, 2015

CONNOR BECKWITH, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERSTATE MANAGEMENT COMPANY, LLC, Defendant

For CONNOR BECKWITH, Plaintiff: Sheldon N. Jacobs, LAW OFFICES OF SHELDON N. JACOBS, Owings Mills, MD.

For CREA HAMILTON CROWNE PLAZA TRS,LLC, CORNERSTONE REAL ESTATE ADVISORS, LLC, Defendants: Joseph Walter Santini, FRIEDLANDER MISLER, PLLC, Washington, DC.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.

Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

I. INTRODUCTION

Connor Beckwith (" Beckwith" ) was assaulted in a hotel where he was a guest. In this diversity action, he alleges that the hotel management company was negligent in maintaining security measures and in responding to the assault. The defendant has moved for summary judgment. To prevail at trial, Beckwith would need to prove, among other things, that the criminal assault was " so foreseeable that it became [the defendant's] duty to guard against it by adhering to a recognized standard of care." Clement v. Peoples Drug Store, Inc., 634 A.2d 425, 427 (D.C. 1993). Because Beckwith has not proffered sufficient evidence of either the assault's foreseeability or the standard of care, the Court grants the motion for summary judgment.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In June 2009, Beckwith and his family were guests of the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C. See Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1; Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 3, ECF No. 27-1. The hotel was managed by Interstate Management Company, LLC (" Interstate" ). Kia Decl. ¶ 2, Def.'s Ex. A, ECF No. 27-2.

On June 28, 2009, Beckwith went to the lower level of the hotel lobby to use the restroom. Upon reaching the lower level, he encountered Anthony Lopez (" Lopez" ), who approached and began a conversation with Beckwith, walking alongside him toward the men's restroom. See Connor Beckwith Dep. at 10:12--15, 11:4--16, 12:11--13, 13:9--20, Def.'s Ex. B, ECF No. 27-3. Just outside the restroom door, Lopez touched Beckwith on the crotch. Id. at 13:21--14:3. Beckwith said nothing, entered the restroom, and went into a stall. Id. at 14:12--22, 15:15--17. Lopez followed him into the stall and again touched him on the crotch. Id. at 15:10--16:11. Beckwith then told Lopez to leave, and Lopez complied. Id. at 16:11--13. After using the restroom and returning upstairs, Beckwith reported the incident to his parents, and his father immediately alerted the hotel's front desk. See id. at 16:14--15; Brian Beckwith Dep. at 16:5--9, 17:21--18:2, Def.'s Ex. C, ECF No. 27-4. The hotel's security director, having reviewed security camera footage, found Lopez dining in the hotel's restaurant. See Kia Decl. ¶ ¶ 13--15, Def.'s Ex. A. After Beckwith identified Lopez to the police, Lopez was arrested. See Connor Beckwith Dep. at 20:1--4, 23:8--12, Def.'s Ex. B.

At the time of the assault, the hotel had numerous security cameras in place, including one in the lower level of the lobby. Kia Decl. ¶ 8, Def.'s Ex. A. The camera in the lower level captured the hallway near the men's restroom, but the restroom door was slightly off camera. Id. ¶ 9. On the day of the assault, the hotel's security director was the only member of the security staff on duty. Id. ¶ ¶ 10--11; Street Dep. at 64:14--19, Def.'s Ex. D, ECF No. 27-5. From 2007 to 2009, there were 542 violent crimes and 4,171 property crimes within a half-mile radius of the hotel. Street Decl. ¶ 5, Pl.'s Ex. A, ECF No. 28-1.

Beckwith subsequently filed a one-count complaint in this Court, alleging that Interstate's negligence in maintaining security at the hotel and in responding to the assault caused him physical and emotional injuries. See generally Compl.[1] Interstate moved for summary judgment on the basis that Beckwith's evidence is insufficient to establish the duty, breach of a standard of care, or proximate causation required to sustain a negligence claim. See generally Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 27.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A court may grant summary judgment when " the movant shows that there is 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 party moving for summary judgment bears the " initial responsibility" of demonstrating " the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In response, the non-moving party must " go beyond the pleadings" and " designate specific facts showing that there is ...


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