In September of 2009, Michael Eason reserved a room at the Boston Marriot Burlington Hotel for an overnight stay. After checking into the hotel at approximately 8:00 pm, he made his way to his rented room. After opening the door to his hotel room, Mr. Eason admitted that the room was dark except for the faint glow emanating from the partially open door and a small gap in the curtain hanging over the windows. As he stepped further into the hotel room, the light became even fainter as the door fully closed. Mr. Eason took a few more steps in his room and unexpectedly encountered a coffee table that caused him to sustain a serious fall. Mr. Eason alleges that it was negligence on behalf of the hotel that caused or substantially contributed to the injuries he sustained in connection with his fall. A suit was commenced in Middlesex Superior Court but was ultimately moved to federal court for litigation. The Defendant Hotel filed a motion for summary judgment in hopes of getting the case dismissed.
In order to succeed in a claim predicated on negligence a plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that there was a breach in the purported standard of care, and due to the breach the plaintiff was caused to sustain damages for which he or she should be compensated. In discussing the duty in this matter, the Judge reiterated that:
“While a landowner has a duty to lawful visitors of its property to maintain reasonably safe conditions and to warn of unreasonable dangers, landowners “are relieved of the duty to warn of open and obvious dangers on their premises because it is not reasonably foreseeable that a visitor exercising (as the law presumes) reasonable care for his own safety would suffer injury from blatant hazards. . . Stated otherwise, where a danger would be obvious to a person of ordinary perception and judgment, a landowner may reasonably assume that a visitor has knowledge of it . . . .””