Jon Campisi Jul. 20, 2012, 7:50am

A North Carolina woman has filed a personal injury complaint against a popular

Philadelphia hotel and its parent company, claiming the company’s negligence in not assisting her in carrying her wheelchair-bound son down four flights of stairs during a fire alarm episode caused her to sustain leg injuries.

Philadelphia attorney Cynthia M. von Schlichten, of the firm Fine and Staud, filed the civil action July 17 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Donna Derrick, of Connelly Springs, N.C.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are the Hampton Inn at 1301 Race St. in downtown Philadelphia and Memphis, TN-based Hilton Worldwide Inc.

According to the complaint, Derrick had checked in to the hotel in early June of last year with her 5-year-old paraplegic son, Randall, and Derrick’s brother, who is not referenced by name in the suit.

Derrick and her family had been traveling to Philadelphia annually so Randall could undergo special medical treatments pertaining to his condition.

The lawsuit states that the Derricks always stayed at the Hampton Inn and had never had a problem before.

They even received a “lifetime deal” that enabled them to receive a discounted room rate, and the hotel further accommodated them by placing a red star on their door indicating the presence of someone with a disability.

On June 6, 2011, however, problems ensued after the fire alarm at the hotel began to sound.

The complaint alleges that Derrick phoned the front desk to see about obtaining assistance in helping her handicapped son to safely evacuate the building given that they couldn’t use the elevators during a fire emergency.

Nobody answered the phone at the front desk, however, leaving Derrick and her brother to carry Randall’s wheelchair down four flights of stairs in an effort to exit the potentially burning building, the lawsuit states.

The complaint states that the weight of the wheelchair was too much for Derrick and her brother to bear, and Derrick ended up becoming injured after the device landed on her right ankle, which had been “slightly compromised” by a fall that occurred earlier in the week.

As a result of the incident, Derrick was forced to spend money on medical attention, and she continues to suffer “great pain and agony,” as well as mental anguish and humiliation, the lawsuit claims.

The complaint contains a negligence count against the hotel in which the plaintiff claims the defendant failed to heed to and implement its own measures and policies put in place to ensure the safety and comfort of its handicapped or special needs guests.

Derrick also accuses the hotel of failing to provide a means of communication for its guests in the event of an emergency, failing to assist its special needs and handicapped guests in the event of a disaster, and failing to otherwise take measures to protect the plaintiff and business invitees utilizing the premises.

The lawsuit also contains a vicarious liability count against Hilton Worldwide Inc.

Derrick seeks judgment against the defendants in excess of $50,000, together with costs, prejudgment interest and attorneys fees.

The plaintiff is seeking a jury trial.


The case ID number is 120702321.

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