Senior Citizen Settles For $1 Million After Hotel Fall
Finally on August 30, 2012, Linke had a complete elbow reconstruction surgery. Her left elbow joint was replaced with an artificial joint, Barnes said.
On Linke's behalf, Barnes filed a defective premises lawsuit in New London Superior Court against Heritage New London LLC, which was the group that owned the Holiday Inn. Barnes was able to prove that the hotel was aware of the problem with the lobby carpet and never did anything to remedy it.
Barnes discovered that the hotel had been making improvements to rooms, "focusing on areas that generated revenue for the hotel," but never remedied the lobby carpeting situation.
He explained that the corporation that owns Holiday Inn, as part of its license agreement with the local ownership group, had the ability to perform regular inspections of the property — both announced and unannounced — to ensure that the hotel met Holiday Inn's expectations and standards. Barnes discovered an inspection report dated December 16, 2009, which noted that the carpeting was loose in the entrance area.
A follow-up inspection in September 2010, just a few weeks prior to Linke's fall, also noted that the carpeting was still a problem and hadn't been fixed. One of the New London hotel's owners, Sunil Nayak, of New Jersey, testified during a deposition that he couldn't explain why the carpeting hadn't been fixed.
Barnes said while the lawsuit was pending, the hotel lost its licensing agreement with Holiday Inn. After renovations, the hotel reopened as a Clarion Inn.
Heritage New London was represented by Paul D. Meade, of Halloran & Sage, who did not return calls seeking comment last week.
Barnes said Meade argued contributory negligence, claiming that Linke was partially at fault for her injury. "They essentially claimed that if she kept a proper lookout this wouldn't have happened," said Barnes. "They also highlighted the fact that given her age, her life expectancy was 10 years, thereby diminishing compensation for her injuries."
Barnes said the two sides went to mediation before Superior Court Judge Emmet L. Cosgrove but were unable to reach a settlement. With the trial date fast approaching, Barnes flew to St. Louis three times in three weeks to depose Linke's doctors. The doctors did not want to fly to Connecticut for a trial. Barnes said their testimony was very helpful.
With the trial expected to take place this month, Linke flew from St. Louis to Connecticut with her daughter to attend jury selection. On the sixth day of jury selection, Barnes said the two sides reached a settlement for an even $1 million.