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Houston v. Hyatt Regency Indianapolis

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

February 3, 2014

ANGEL HOUSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
HYATT REGENCY INDIANAPOLIS, HYATT CORPORATION, and C.G. SECURITY SERVICES, INC., Defendants

For ANGEL HOUSTON, Plaintiff: April L. Board, APRIL L. BOARD, P.C., Valparaiso, IN.

For C.G. SECURITY SERVICES, INC., (Added per Amended Complaint of 11/20/12.), Defendant: Edward F. Harney, Jr., William David Beyers, HUME SMITH GEDDES GREEN & SIMMONS, Indianapolis, IN.

OPINION

Hon. William T. Lawrence, United States District Judge.

Page 915

ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

This cause is before the Court on the Defendant Hyatt Regency Indianapolis[1] and Hyatt Corporation's (" the Hyatt" ) motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 83).[2]

Page 916

This motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS[3] the motion for the reasons set forth below.[4]

I. STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (" We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." ). However, " [a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial." Id. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and " the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

II. BACKGROUND

The facts taken in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Angel Houston, are as follow.

Houston visited Indianapolis, Indiana on December 31, 2010, to conduct personal business and to attend a New Year's Eve party at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis (" Hyatt" ) hotel. She purchased the most expensive package available, which included dinner at the Eagle's Nest restaurant, a guest room for the night, a ticket to the New Year's Eve party, and a VIP ticket upgrade. The VIP ticket upgrade gave her access to the Studio Lounge, a private area on the third floor of the hotel that provided light appetizers, a private bar and bartender, extra service staff, and a great view of the festivities down below. The New Year's Eve Party at the Hyatt was held on the first floor atrium as well as the second and third floors, but only VIP ticket holders had access to the third floor Studio Lounge.

Houston ate dinner at the Eagle's Nest, a restaurant on the 23rd floor of the hotel, around 9:00 p.m. After she finished dining, she went back to her hotel room to change into her party attire for the evening. She then went to the hotel's lobby to obtain the appropriate wristband indicating she was a VIP hotel guest. The Hyatt had numerous ticket packages available to accommodate their guests' needs and therefore issued different colored wristbands indicating

Page 917

whether someone was a hotel guest, a VIP ticket holder, over the age of 21, etc. Once she had her wristbands, Houston traveled up the escalators to the third floor to enjoy her evening.

The Hyatt has held the New Year's Eve party for several years, and since 2000 has contracted with C.G. Security Services, Inc. (" C.G. Security" ) to provide security services to monitor and control the crowd for the party. On the night in question, security officials were located on the first, second, and third floors of the hotel. Their duties included monitoring the three party floors, disallowing access to certain areas without the appropriate wristband, conducting surveillance to look for individuals who were intoxicated or causing disturbances, and checking identification at the various bars. In addition to contracting with C.G. Security, the Hyatt itself decided to close off access to the guest floors from the second and third floor elevators--in order to access a guest floor, guests had to use the lobby elevators. Once there, they had to show a room key and the appropriate wristband to access their rooms after they attended the party. This was done to protect and maintain the privacy and security of other hotel guests.

Houston enjoyed her evening talking with other partygoers in the Studio Lounge. At approximately 1:15 a.m., she was ready to leave the party and return to her guest room. She attempted to use the elevators on the third floor, but was told she would have to take the escalators down to the first floor and take the lobby elevators up to her room on the 17th floor. Houston then took the escalators from the third floor to the second floor and from the second floor to the lobby floor. When she reached the lobby, a crowd was gathered at the bottom of the escalators, so Houston turned left to maneuver around the group of people. As she was proceeding to the lobby elevators, someone knocked her from behind on her left shoulder. Houston does not know who this person was, whether they were male or female, or whether the contact was accidental or intentional. The impact caused her to go airborne, and she landed on her right hand, hitting her head. Houston was able to pick herself up and continue to the lobby elevators; however, she fell unconscious in the elevator. A man and a woman who entered the elevator after Houston had fallen picked her up and carried her to her room to assist her.

Once in Houston's room, the man called for security while the woman helped Houston change her clothes and attend to her head wound. Two security officers, a male and a female who were already on the 17th floor regarding a different incident, came to Houston's room. Eventually, an ambulance ...


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