Robin Henry v. Hilton Pasadena, et al.
Stephen H. Smith and Lauren A. R. Lofton obtained judgment on behalf of a client hotel owner in this negligence/premises liability action involving plaintiff's slip-and-fall incident that occurred in a parking structure just outside the Pasadena Hilton.
On October 31, 2011, plaintiff was a hotel guest who, upon entering a parking structure on land adjacent to the hotel, fell off a step at the end of a walkway. Plaintiff claimed that she was distracted by a poorly placed sign that said "Please Watch Your Step." She sued not only the hotel but also the owners of the walkway and parking structure for her injuries, which included fractured and broken bones in her feet, wrists, and arm. During the course of discovery, the adjacent property owners admitted that they owned the property on which plaintiff fell and had a duty to maintain same. Also, pursuant to an agreement with the adjacent property owners, the hotel had an easement to allow its guests to use the walkway. Based primarily on this easement, plaintiff ascribed liability to the hotel owner for her injuries.
In the hotel's motion for summary judgment, it argued that it did not own the subject property nor did it have any duties with respect to maintaining said walkway. Plaintiff's opposition to the motion asserted a number of procedural and evidentiary objections, including that the hotel could not rely on the adjacent property owners' written discovery responses and deposition testimony setting forth their ownership and responsibilities with regard to maintaining the property. Plaintiff further interpreted the easement agreement to impose a duty of care upon the hotel to maintain the walkway.
The court, not having been distracted by plaintiff's objections, found it undisputed that the hotel did not own the alleged dangerous property. It also agreed with the hotel's interpretation and analysis of the easement agreement, which did not impose a duty on the hotel to maintain the walkway. Rather, according to the court, and all parties except for plaintiff, it was clear that such was the responsibility of the adjacent property owners.