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WIECZOREK v. RED ROOF INNS

April 21, 1998

RACHAEL BALINT WIECZOREK and JERMALD WIECZOREK, Plaintiffs, against RED ROOF INNS, INC., Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCAVOY

MEMORANDUM, DECISION & ORDER

 This is an action alleging discrimination in public accommodations in violation of 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 1981 and 1982. Plaintiffs also bring state law claims. Defendant now moves for summary judgment, and plaintiffs cross-move for the same relief.

 I. BACKGROUND

 A. Facts

 On June 4, 1996, Christine Hislop called defendant Red Roof Inns, Inc.'s ("Red Roof") Central Reservation System to make a hotel reservation for her daughter, plaintiff Rachael Balint Wieczorek ("Rachael"), and her daughter's then-fiance, plaintiff Jermald Wieczorek ("Jermald"). *fn1" Both plaintiffs are black. The reservation was for June 5, 1996 at the Red Roof located in Southborough, Massachusetts. Hislop knew the plaintiffs would be checking into the hotel room after 6 p.m. on the evening of the 5th because all three would be attending a party earlier in the evening.

 Hislop called Red Roof sometime during the evening of the 4th. According to Hislop, she made a single reservation under the name Balint and the name Wieczorek, and spelled both names for the person taking the reservation. Hislop Dep. at 14. She also guaranteed the reservation with her credit card. Id. at 15; Hislop Aff. P 8. *fn2"

 Relying on its employees' interpretation of computer records generated both at the Central Reservation System and the Red Roof in Southborough, defendant offers a more circuitous version of the events surrounding the making of the reservation. At approximately 9:45 p.m. on the evening of June 4th, 1996, Hislop made a non-guaranteed reservation in the name "Wieczorek" for June 5th. She then canceled the reservation three minutes later, and immediately made another reservation in the name of "Balint," which she initially did not guarantee, then changed to guaranteed, changed back to non-guaranteed, and changed back to guaranteed one last time. See Def. Ex. C, E; Deposition of Red Roof Customer Service Director Cindy Butin ("Butin Dep.") at 43-50; Deposition of Red Roof Night Auditor Barry Ross ("Ross Dep.") at 25-27. Hislop denies canceling any reservation. Hislop Dep. at 14.

 Hislop was given a confirmation number for a guaranteed reservation. Hislop Aff. P 10. The next day (June 5th) she passed this number on to plaintiffs as the three were leaving the party. Id. Plaintiffs arrived at the Red Roof in Southborough at approximately 9:30 p.m. on the evening of the 5th. Red Roof employee Joseph Varghese was the front desk clerk on duty when plaintiffs arrived. One or both of the plaintiffs told Varghese they had a reservation and gave the names Wieczorek and Balint. Rachael Dep. At 21; Jermald Dep. at 14. Varghese then punched two keys on his computer, and told plaintiffs the reservation had been canceled at 6 p.m. that day. Rachael Dep. at 21; Jermald Dep. at 14. Plaintiffs then offered the confirmation number, which Varghese told them was of no use. Jermald Dep. at 14. Jermald then told Varghese he could pay in cash, to which Varghese responded that he couldn't accept cash, that "cash was no good." Id. at 15. Finally, Jermald asked if they could get another room; Varghese told them the hotel was booked. Id. at 16; Rachael Dep. at 22. Plaintiffs then left the hotel. The entire conversation lasted no longer than ten minutes.

 Red Roof's procedures mandate that a desk clerk check both names when a guest offers two names in the alternative as the name for a reservation. Butin Dep. at 96. The same procedures also dictate that a desk clerk check a confirmation number when offered by a guest. Id. Red Roof's computer records indicated that on the night of June 5, 1997, all the rooms at the Southborough Red Roof were booked and occupied except one room that was reserved and guaranteed in the name of Balint. That reservation was canceled at 3:15 a.m. on June 6, 1997. Def. Ex. E.

 The next day, plaintiffs told Hislop what happened. Hislop contacted the Red Roof in Southborough and spoke with Gisela Resendes, a Red Roof employee. Resendes Dep. at 12-13. Hislop clarified with Resendes that she had followed the correct procedure for making a guaranteed reservation when she made the reservation for her son and daughter-in-law. Hislop Dep. at 22-23; Resendes Dep. at 30. Resendes then referred Hislop to Susan Morrissey, the Southborough Red Roof manager. Hislop Dep. at 25. Resendes also left a message for Morrissey concerning the incident, asking her to phone Hislop. Resendes Dep. at 11.

 Hislop spoke with Morrissey about the incident on June 7, 1996. Morrissey told Hislop she would speak with Varghese and call her back. Hislop Dep. at 37-38.

 Morrissey spoke with Varghese about the incident on June 8, 1996. During this conversation, Morrissey disciplined Varghese for "inhospitable behavior toward guests" for his failure to assist plaintiffs in finding alternative accommodations. Morrissey Dep. at 47-48. She did not ask him whether he had checked the name "Balint" or whether plaintiffs gave the name "Balint" on the night in question. Id. at 56. Morrissey also disciplined Varghese regarding an unrelated incident involving Varghese hanging up on a customer during an exercise in which Morrissey listened in on a phone call designed to test whether Red Roof employees follow correct procedure. Id. at 51-52. When Morrissey told him she had listened to the phone call, Varghese initially denied hanging up, then indicated it was unintentional. Id. at 53. After Morrissey informed him of the disciplinary action, Varghese quit. Morrissey Dep. at 61.

 Hislop and Morrissey spoke again on June 10, 1996. Morrissey told Hislop that she had caught Varghese "in lies" and that he had been terminated. Hislop Dep. at 49-50. Morrissey did not specify what Varghese had lied about, and Hislop did not ask. Id. at 50. The same day, Morrissey sent Rachael a letter that read, in pertinent part, as follows:

 
Please accept my sincerest apologies for the events that occurred here recently. You and your family deserved 100% Guest Satisfaction and we failed to deliver it. I understand that there was an error made as you attempted to check in and can certainly understand why you would be disappointed with the lack of service ...

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