Phila. Ritz-Carlton accused in suit of maintaining illegal 'makeshift loading dock' that led to injuries

By Jon Campisi | Aug 30, 2013

One of Philadelphia’s busier hotels is facing a premises liability complaint

by a city resident who alleges she was injured as a result of tripping on broken sidewalk, a defect she blames on the long-standing practice of using the pedestrian walkway as a makeshift loading dock.

Cynthia Davis filed suit earlier this month at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court against The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia over claims that she sustained a host of hip, knee, ankle and back injuries as a result of her July 11, 2011 fall outside of the Center City hotel.

The place of lodging, which is located at Ten Avenue of the Arts, and abuts a public sidewalk on three sides, is faulted for regularly “willfully and maliciously” blocking and obstructing the highly traveled pedestrian walkway with delivery trucks, hotel supplies and other materials.

The defendant does not have a permit or license from the City of Philadelphia to use the sidewalk as a makeshift loading dock, the suit says, and the activities undertaken by the hotel in this area of the city has caused the concrete sidewalk and granite curbing outside of the hotel to break and crack.

It was the defective walkway that caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit states that there are more than 20 different areas where the sidewalk and curbing is broken and cracked within a 50-foot section of the walkway on the northwest side of the Ritz-Carlton.

Nearly every day, the complaint states, agents, employees and contractors working with the hotel use the “very highly traveled public pedestrian right-of-way to enter and leave the hotel and knew and/or should have known of the damage to the sidewalk and curbs.”

Additional defendants named in the litigation are The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC and Marriott International.

Davis, the plaintiff, had to seek treatment at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s emergency room shortly after her fall outside of the hotel, the suit says, and from mid-July 2011 to the present the woman has been evaluated, diagnosed and treated by various area doctors and professionals, all of whom have informed Davis that her injuries were likely caused by her fall outside of the downtown Philadelphia hotel.

As a result of her injuries, the plaintiff has experienced pain, discomfort, frustration, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life’s pleasures and an inability to attend to her regular activities, the suit states.

Davis claims she has also sustained a loss of earnings and earning potential.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that prior to filing her civil action, Davis approached the hotel about the incident, but that a Marriott claims services representative informed the woman that the insurance benefits she sought in connection with her injuries would be denied.

To this day, the allegedly defective conditions outside of the hotel have not been corrected, the complaint states.

The lawsuit accuses the City of Philadelphia of showing favoritism toward the defendants relating to the allowance of the makeshift loading dock in an area where such activities shouldn’t legally be taking place.

Davis seeks $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for each count listed in the complaint.

She is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Geoffrey V. Seay.

Lawyers representing the defendants recently filed a petition in federal court seeking to transfer the matter out of Common Pleas Court and into the U.S. District Court due to diversity jurisdiction and because of a contention that the damages sought by the plaintiff would exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania state court.

The defendants are being represented by attorney Paul Leary, Jr., of the Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor.


The state court case ID number is 130701517 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-05072-TON.

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