09 May, 2023 Legal
Just after 7 pm on 23 February 2023, “a group of minors” – all 11-14 years old – says The Philadelphia Inquirer, ambushed and beat a 33-year-old woman on the sidewalk in downtown Philadelphia. The assault was caught on CCTV.
6 ABC says the specific location of the beating was near 15th and Chestnut Streets, which is directly in front of the W Philadelphia Hotel and Element Philadelphia Downtown, both Marriott properties owned by franchisee Chestlen Development.
The W Philadelphia Hotel is a 5-star property, says Hotels.com, located at 1439 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19102. The Element Philadelphia Downtown is a 4-star property, says Hotels.com, located at 1441 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19102.
The Philadelphia Inquirer says one group of assailants “tracked, stalked and harassed” the victim from behind as another group lay in wait for her around a corner and in front of the hotels in question.
The Philly Voice says the ambush began with the assailants hitting the victim from behind, causing her to fall. Then, eight youngsters punched, kicked, and stomped her to unconsciousness. They stole her air pods and then fled the scene.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philly Voice say the victim sustained the following injuries:
Police investigated, including viewing CCTV of the attack. As such, police identified several of the assailants. Six turned themselves in. One, a female, was arrested at home. Police are still searching for the eighth. They were charged with “criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery and related crimes,” says The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The victim, via Morgan & Morgan law firm, filed a lawsuit against Marriott, Chestlen Development, and the parents of the alleged attackers. Morgan & Morgan requested a trial by jury.
The lawsuit alleges that, despite hotel staff from both properties – including valet and security – being near the attack, they did nothing to help the victim, nor did they call the police. It is not clear if hotel staff witnessed the event or its immediate aftermath.
The Philadelphia Inquirer says the lawsuit also alleges Marriott and Chestlen Development were responsible for securing the sidewalks and parking areas around the hotel but failed to do so. The plaintiffs say lighting around the hotels was poor, surveillance was seemingly lax, and hotel staff presumably did nothing to keep the assailants away from the hotel. Morgan & Morgan attorneys said, “The hotel had the surveillance to see the violent situation that was unfolding outside their doors, yet allegedly did nothing to stop it.”
The plaintiffs also say there was a preponderance of crime around the two hotels, including 238 reported cases in the past 14 months, some of which were on the hotel’s sidewalks. As such, the plaintiffs indicate the attack, in this case, was foreseeable, reports the Philly Voice.
The Philly Voice said the accused’s parents were also named in the lawsuit for “failing to supervise their children and failing to teach their children not to engage in violent behavior.”
There are four takeaways. First, as Muir Analytics had reported before, most recently on 29 March 2023 to InfraGard, a joint FBI-private security partnership, decreased felony prosecutions by some district attorneys and judges has caused reduced policing, which, in turn, has contributed to increased crime in multiple US cities. This, in turn, has contributed to an increase in US hotel violence. For more on this, see Muir’s strategic hotel violence assessment for 2022 and its coverage of the murder of 31-year-old Christy Bautista at a Washington DC hotel on 1 April 2023. If this trend continues, US hotel violence will remain at elevated levels ranging from 50-80 incidents a month. This is a threat to public safety.
Second, the plaintiff’s attorneys say hotels are at least partly responsible for providing security for their surrounding perimeters, such as sidewalks and street parking areas. This is a gray area for some hotels. Staff at some properties disregard threat issues outside their doors. Others monitor their sidewalks and neighboring streets to ensure guest safety. In May 2020, for example, hero porter Neil Robertson of the Apex Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, successfully defended two female hotel guests as they were attacked by a man with a knife on the sidewalk next to the hotel, says Edinburgh Live. Robertson was injured in the melee and received three awards for bravery for his actions.
Third, based on language in the press and comments from the plaintiff’s attorneys, it appears the plaintiffs contend the hotel defendants might be culpable for security negligence based on reasonable foreseeability. Specifically, the Philly Voice said the violence around the hotels “created a foreseeable risk of violence.” The term “foreseeable” is a possible tell here. In general terms, the plaintiffs might argue that because there had been many previous acts of violence at and around both hotels, it was realistic for the hotel defendants to:
Fourth, Muir Analytics tracks hotel violence-related lawsuits, and they seem to be on the increase. Hotels that do not engage in enhanced security, especially those that have had previous acts of violence on property, are particularly vulnerable to legal action when violence occurs. Proactive security, based on advanced hotel threat intelligence, can not only help protect lives – it can also help mitigate brand-tarnishing lawsuits that suck millions from hotel earnings.
Muir Analytics runs the world’s largest, most sophisticated hotel violence database – the SecureHotel Threat Portal – with over 2,400 hotel attacks (and growing.) We can provide the hospitality sector with intelligence that facilitates full-spectrum risk reduction, which helps hotels protect guests, staff, buildings, brands, and revenues. Contact us for a consultation: 1-833-DATA-444.
“Woman attacked, beaten unconscious by kids in Center City sues Marriott for failing to keep sidewalk safe,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 April 2023.
“Victim of brutal attack in Center City sues Marriott hotels, suspects’ parents,” 6 ABC, 21 April 2023.
“Woman assaulted in Center City sues nearby Marriott hotels for failure to keep area safe,” Philly Voice, 21 April 2023.
“‘Come after me, leave them’: The hero hotel porter who saved guests from Edinburgh knife attack,” Edinburgh Live, 13 May 2020.
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