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A woman who was stung in the buttock by the tip of a hypodermic needle found under the covers of her hotel bed shortly after she checked into her room can proceed with litigation against the hotel, says a federal appeals court, in reversing a lower court ruling.
Emily Baruch was pricked by the needle, which was underneath multiple layers of bedding, within five minutes of entering her hotel room, according to Wednesday’s ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, in Donald Baruch; Emily Baruch v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. et. al.
The couple filed suit against Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, charging the chain with negligence. The District Court granted the hotel chain summary judgment dismissing the case, which was overturned by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.
The hotel has failed to demonstrate “that a jury could not reasonably find that the failure to detect and remove a sharp, dangerous object from a hotel guest’s bed constitutes a breach of the innkeeper’s duty of care,” said the ruling, in overturning the lower court ruling and remanding the case for further proceedings.
Attorneys in the case could not immediately be reached or had no comment.
In 2015, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries said it fined a Motel 6 in Vancouver, Washington, $112,450 for exposing workers to used hypodermic needles.
A Miami Beach hotel operator has agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit, in which it was charged with firing black Haitian dishwashers who had complained about discrimination and replacing them with mostly Hispanic workers.