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WOODFORD v. HILTON HOTELS CORP.

February 2, 1996

DAVID WOODFORD and CATHERINE WOODFORD, Plaintiffs
v.
HILTON HOTELS CORPORATION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCAVOY

 Plaintiffs brought this diversity action against defendant for an injury to plaintiff David Woodford allegedly caused by a defectively designed soap dish. Before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment.

 I. Background

 Plaintiffs currently reside in Schenectady County, New York. While visiting Anchorage, Alaska, for personal and professional reasons in July of 1992, plaintiffs stayed at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel (the "Hotel") as paying guests. On the morning of July 8, while showering in his room at the Hotel, plaintiff David Woodford bent over to pick up a bar of soap. As he stood up, he struck his head on a soap dish protruding three to four inches from the shower wall. As a result, plaintiff allegedly sustained a concussion, severe neck strain, shooting pains in his head, black-outs, continuous headaches, attention span deficit, nausea, loss of energy, sleep disturbance, stress disorder, and anxiety. (Ps' Resp. to Interrogs. # 1.) Plaintiff reported this incident to the Hotel three days later, on July 11, by filling out and signing a guest accident report. (Id. # 12.) He now alleges that defendant's negligent design and construction of the shower and defendant's negligent maintenance of its premises was the sole cause of his injuries, for which plaintiffs seek $ 1,500,000 in damages.

 Defendant Hilton Hotels Corporation is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Beverly Hills, California. It is authorized to do business in the State of New York. Although plaintiffs allege that defendant owned, managed, and maintained the Hotel at all times relevant to this action, (Compl. P 7), *fn1" defendant insists that pursuant to a management contract dated November 30, 1976, it has merely managed the Hotel pursuant to an agreement with Bristol Corporation ("Bristol"), the owner. (D's Stmnt. Undisp. Facts PP 4-5.) According to defendant, Bristol designed and built the hotel room where plaintiff's injury occurred, neither of which involved defendant. (D's Mem. Supp. Mtn. at 2.)

 Defendant offers the following, uncontested description of the area where plaintiff's alleged injury occurred:

 
(a) the bathroom is 5' long and 8' wide;
 
(b) the entrance side of the tub is 17" high;
 
(c) the west wall contains a towel rack which is 66" from the top of the tub;
 
(d) the tub inside dimensions are 55" long and 23.5" wide at the top of the tub surface;
 
(e) the north wall contains two soap dishes. The top of the soap dish is flat and extends 3 1/16' [sic] from the showre [sic] wall;
 
(f) the upper soap dish is 4'8 3/4" from the floor of the tub to the lip of the soap dish.

 (D's Stmnt. Undisp. Facts, P 2.) Prior to the July 8 incident, defendant asserts, no guest of the Hotel had ever complained about the position, design, or construction of the soap dish in question and defendant had not received from any ...


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