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Dallis v. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 20, 2018

Harriet Dallis, Plaintiff,
v.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc. et al, Defendants,

          OPINION & ORDER

          ANDREW L. CARTER, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Harriet Dallis brings this diversity tort action to recover monetary damages for personal injuries she sustained on a slip and fall while she was a guest at the Hilton Hotel Midtown. Plaintiff asserts two causes of action: negligence and gross negligence. Defendants, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc., Hilton Management, LLC, Hilton Worldwide, Inc., Park Hotels And Resorts, Inc., Hilton Management, LLC, and HTL NY Hilton, LLC (collectively, "Hilton") now seek summary judgment and dismissal of Plaintiff s complaint in its entirety. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

         FACTS

         The following facts are taken from the record, including Defendants' Rule 56.[1]

         Statement, and are undisputed unless otherwise noted.' On January 23, 2016, Dallis was a guest at the Hilton Hotel Midtown ("Hilton Hotel") in Room 3504 located at 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York. Defs. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 7. There was snow falling on that day as a result of Winter Storm Jonas. Dallis left the Hilton at approximately 10:00 am and returned to her room "between 3:00 and 3:30 pm." Dallis Dep. Tr. 66:9-12. At neither time, did she not notice any puddles or any other moisture in the elevator lobby area. Id. 65:5-17. Around an hour later, Dallis left her room at approximately 4:30 pm and took the elevator down. Id. 69:9-13. GinaValenti, an employee of Dallis's, accompanied her in the elevator. Id. 73:5-7; Valenti Aff ¶ 7.

         Exiting the elevator, Dallis slipped and fell in the elevator lobby or bank. Dallis Dep. Tr. 69:6-11; 77:8-78:6; see also Guest Accident Report (Raicus Decl. Ex. U). Dallis filled out a form entitled Guest Accident Report, where she wrote:

"I got off the elevator and walking away from the elevator. I stepped (unbeknownst to me) in a puddle of water, my feet went out from under me. I fell to the ground then slipped and slid into the edge of the opposite elevator frame, nose first."

         Dallis did not notice water on the floor of the elevator lobby and did not look back to see what caused her to slip. Dallis Dep. Tr. 81:22-25.

         There is a disputed issue of fact about whether there was water on the elevator lobby floor.[2] See PL 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 1. Valenti witnessed the accident. Defs. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 14. She observed that there was water in many areas on the elevator bank's floor, including where Dallis slipped. Valenti Aff. ¶ 10. Valenti also told Dallis that she slipped in water. Dallis Dep. Tr. 82:2-9. However, Winston Mattias, a Hilton Security Officer who responded to the accident location and inspected the floor, stated that there was no moisture, liquids, or anything on the floor. Mattias Dep. Tr. 28:4-7; 29:5-11.

         Prior to the incident, Pedro Rosario, who worked as a housekeeper in the lobby at the hotel on the day of the accident (Defs. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 11), began his shift at 4:00 pm. Rosario Dep. Tr. 15:12-20; 24:11-15; 36:10-11. Rosario started mopping the floors and would check the floors of the elevator lobby every 20 minutes or so. Id. 25:16-23; 36:16-25. After coming from the bathroom, Rosario observed Dallis, post slip and fall, bleeding from the nose and speaking with security in front of the elevators. Id. 27:20-28:17. Rosario mopped the wet footprints in the elevator lobby area. Id. 29:9-25.

         According to the Assistant Director of Housekeeping at the hotel at the time of the incident, Wayne Durant, the elevator lobby where the slip and fall occurred was constantly inspected and mopped during repetitive cleaning cycles to prevent the accumulation of water on the floor surface. Durant Aff. ¶ 16. Moreover, there was no slip and fall accidents or complaints about water on the floor prior to the accident. Id. During inclement weather, and specifically on January 23, 2016, the Hilton Hotel implements enhanced maintenance and safety protocol including the placement of mats at all hotel entrances and the placement of caution signs in the lobby and elevator lobby entrances, but not in the elevator lobby. See Durant Aff. ¶¶ 10-12; see also Rosario Dep. Tr. 21:7-23; 25:21-24 (noting additional personnel working for maintenance on that day).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, summary judgment is proper where admissible evidence in the form of affidavits, deposition transcripts, or other documentation demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and one party's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. See Viola v. Philips Med. Sys. of N. Am.,42 F.3d 712, 716 (2d Cir. 1994). There is no issue of material fact where the facts are irrelevant to the disposition of the matter. Chartis SegurosMexico, S.A. de C. V. v. ELI Rail & Rigging, LLC,967 F.Supp.2d 756, 761 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). In deciding a summary judgment motion, the Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. v. Jones Chemical Inc.,315 F.3d 171, 175 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). An issue of material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "[I]n cases where the nonmovant will bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial on an issue, ...


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