Marriott International is the single largest hospitality company in the world, with brands ranging from the mid-range Courtyard and Sheraton to the famously luxurious Ritz-Carlton. Unlike many of its peers, Marriott also owns a hotel management company called MXM, which oversees the day-to-day operations of thousands of individual hotels. Other Marriott properties are managed by local franchise owners.

Below, we’ll go over common reasons you might need to sue a Marriott hotel. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a lawyer about your specific situation, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.

Maintenance and Design Issues Have Led to Catastrophic Accidents for Marriott Guests

Marriott hotels, like all businesses that are physically open to guests, have a duty to keep their premises free of needless hazards that could foreseeably harm someone.

One of the simplest examples of needlessly unsafe premises causing harm would be a basic slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident. When a walkway is uneven or slippery, it’s easily foreseeable that someone could fall and injure themselves. If the staff of a hotel have time to notice that such a hazard exists on the property, and they fail to post a warning sign and take timely steps toward fixing the problem, the hotel is liable for any resulting accidents.

Fall accidents can be quite serious. One woman in Scott County, Iowa slipped on a patch of ice outside a Marriott and broke her ankle in three places. She sued and was awarded $4.9 million. In 2019, a panel of three judges unanimously denied Marriott’s attempt to appeal the ruling.

Other premises accidents can involve far more complex architecture than a neglected walkway.

Here in Atlanta, one of the most infamous Mariott premises accidents took place in 2017, at the Marriott-owned rotating Sun Dial Restaurant. While leaving the restaurant with his family, a 5-year-old boy got his head stuck between a wooden booth in the rotating dining room and a stationary exterior wall. He suffered a fatal brain injury.

Contrary to some initial reports, all parties agreed that the child’s parents did nothing wrong. The staff also seem to have responded appropriately during the accident. The fault, the family argued, was with the inherently hazardous design of the rotating dining room. Their lawsuit was ultimately settled out of court, and the Sun Dial has been stationary ever since.

More recently, in May of 2023, part of the HVAC system at the Gaylord Rockies Resort collapsed into an indoor pool patio. The Gaylord Rockies Resort is a Marriott-branded property in Denver, Colorado. Six people were rushed to local hospitals due to the falling debris, two of them with life-threatening injuries. Bystanders report that there were between 50 and 100 people in the pool area at the time.

In short, every feature of a property, from the novel and luxurious to the mundane and essential, introduces its own potential dangers. Hotel owners are responsible for anticipating and mitigating those dangers as much as reasonably possible.

Running a Safe Pool Is a Responsibility Few Hotels Can Handle

Swimming pools and hot tubs are particularly high-risk hotel features, with a lot of potential for harm. They’re also very popular, especially among children, so many hotels choose to provide them anyway, without being prepared for the cost, effort, and expertise required to manage the risks.

Rather than employing lifeguards, most hotels, including Marriott, tend to place the responsibility for pool safety on the guests themselves, particularly the parents of small children, who bear the highest risk of drowning.

It’s true that poor parental supervision does play a role in some pool accidents. In January of 2022, a mother left her 7-year-old daughter unattended twice in the pool of the Melville Marriott in Long Island, New York, for over half an hour each time. The second time she returned, the girl had suffered fatal drowning injuries. Staff reported that, when the woman asked them to open the gates of the pool, they informed her that there was no lifeguard on duty, and that she would have to supervise her daughter at all times.

The mother was charged with manslaughter and child endangerment, but her behavior doesn’t necessarily absolve the hotel of all responsibility. The staff knew that a small child was swimming in the unguarded pool, and the mother was openly sitting in the hotel bar while her daughter was unattended. Apparently, none of the staff saw any need to step in and enforce the pool’s “no unaccompanied minors” rule beyond the initial warning.

It would be easier to excuse hotels like Marriott for their part in accidents like this if child drownings at hotels weren’t so horrifyingly commonplace. In many cases, the children are not unsupervised, but the untrained adults around them simply aren’t an adequate substitute for professional lifeguards.

Here in Atlanta, back in 2018, a woman briefly lost track of her friend’s 4-year-old son while watching him, along with her own children, in the pool of the Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort. When she found him and pulled him from the water, he was blue and unconscious, and she didn’t know how to perform CPR. Amazingly, the boy survived, but only due to the intervention of a bystander couple. One of them was a doctor, the other a retired fire department captain.

In other cases, children’s injuries can be traced to poor physical upkeep of pool facilities. In 2021, a woman brought her four children to the hot tub of a Marriott in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Right after soaking in the tub, all four began coughing, vomiting, and struggling to breathe. Investigators suspect an incorrect mix of pool chemicals to be the cause.

Marriott’s Duty to Guest Safety Includes Security Against Violence

Marriott hotels have been the site of several shootings over the past few years, both mass and targeted.

In November of 2023, a man shot his wife and brother-in-law while attending a wedding at the Marriott in Cool Springs, Tennessee.

That same month, a man met with four other people in room at the Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park hotel in Merrifield Virginia. One of the people there shot him, and he died of his injuries under hospital care. Narcotics were later found in the room.

Less than a year earlier, a man went on a shooting spree across five separate hotels in Orange County, Florida. Two of them were Marriotts.

Two months before that, a known fugitive staying at a Courtyard by Marriott in Long Island fired 30 shots in and around the hotel, killing one man. Bomb-making materials were later found in his room.

This phenomenon might not seem connected with premises liability at first glance, but appropriate security is part of running a safe property.

Although it’s possible for violent crime to happen almost anywhere, at any time, it usually follows predictable patterns. Specifically, violence tends to cluster around certain properties that have proven to be crime-friendly.

If a hotel allows itself to gain a crime-friendly reputation, that puts its guests, staff, and neighbors at serious risk of violence. And, if the area surrounding a hotel has a history of violence, that counts as a foreseeable hazard, just like a slippery patch of ice on the ground.

Hotels can and should address this kind of danger with precautions such as:

  • Requiring photo ID upon check-in
  • Maintaining security cameras and good lighting in common areas, including the parking lot
  • Restricting certain areas of the property to registered guests
  • Hiring security guards, if necessary

At the absolute minimum, all hotels in the U.S, regardless of history or location, are legally required to provide secure locks on every guestroom door.

In April of 2022, a man staying in the Charlotte Marriott City Center in North Carolina reported that an intruder entered his room while he was sleeping, sexually assaulted him, and then stole his wallet and clothes. A suspect was arrested, and the victim is suing, saying that the lock on his door malfunctioned.

For many other guests who’ve faced intruders in their hotel rooms, the security failure was not with the physical lock, but with the staff’s management of the keys. In November of 2023, a woman woke up to find her coworker attempting to break into her room at a Courtyard Marriott in Independence, Ohio. He had obtained a key to her room simply by claiming to be her boyfriend — a common tactic of would-be assailants. Hotels frequently accept these claims with no verification, rendering their locks effectively useless.

Incidents like these may sometimes be the result of poor staff training, but they can also have more sinister origins.

A Hotel Cannot Provide Safety While Profiting from Crime

Sometimes, it’s not an accident when a hotel becomes a crime haven. Hotels are ideal locations for many types of organized criminal enterprises, including illegal trafficking in drugs, weapons, and forced prostitution. Some hotels deliberately cater to this kind of activity as a source of lucrative repeat business.

All of these criminal enterprises raise the likelihood of violence on and around a property, and of course, sex trafficking is inherently an act of violence toward its victims.

Several Marriott locations have been connected with confirmed or suspected sex trafficking operations, including the Courtyard by Marriott in Independence where the staff gave the woman’s room key to her coworker. A different woman reported having been openly and continuously sold for sex out of that hotel from 2010 through 2015, and then again in 2017. So, it’s possible that giving away a woman’s room key without her consent was standard practice there, rather than a one-time error.

More recently, here in Georgia, a man was shot and killed at the Brookhaven Courtyard by Marriot in 2019. The woman convicted of his murder was apparently trying to force him to pay for a visit with a younger woman she was trafficking, after the younger women had refused to have sex with him.

Then, in 2020, another woman sued two Detroit hotels for their alleged collaboration with her sex traffickers. One of the them was the Marriott-owned Fairfield Inn.

Last year, an undercover detective responded to an ad for commercial sex and met with a 17-year-old girl at a Courtyard by Marriott in Miami Beach, Florida. The girl eventually agreed to identify her trafficker, who was promptly arrested.

If you have also been sexually exploited at a Marriott, or harmed in the crossfire of criminal activity, you are probably entitled to significant compensation.

What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed on a Marriott Property

If you’ve been injured on a Marriott property, follow these steps as closely as you can:

  1. Protect yourself from further injury. If that means running away from a dangerous situation, run.
  2. Get medical care. This is both for your health and for establishing a clear record of your injuries.
  3. Preserve any evidence of what happened and its consequences, such as bills, text messages, or even photos of the incident site, if you felt safe enough to take any.
  4. Notify the Marriott hotel. This makes it illegal for them to destroy evidence of what happened on that day. However, you should not allow yourself to be drawn into a detailed discussion or pressured into making a statement without a lawyer.
  5. Find a qualified hotel liability lawyer in your area.

The Stoddard Firm is passionate about holding powerful companies accountable, and helping the victims of violence and preventable accidents get the compensation they deserve. We’re experts in premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, negligent security, and human trafficking law. We’re also closely familiar with innkeeper laws, and how franchised business structures affect corporate liability.

To get started with a free consultation on your potential case against Marriott or one of its franchisees, give us a call at 678-RESULTS, or reach out through our online chat function.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Matt StoddardMatt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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