One of the legal duties of any land or business owner is anticipating potential safety issues and taking reasonable steps to eliminate or minimize them. What kind of safety issues the owner needs to watch for will vary depending on the features of the property, and how it’s going to be used.
Motels brands like Ramada Inn need to manage wide range of threats, from basic tripping hazards, to localized crime patterns, to malfunctions in their plumbing, electricity, or gas systems.
It’s important to recognize that, just because a certain kind of danger is common among motels, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for it to go unaddressed. If anything, the opposite is true. The more evidence there is that a danger exists, the more responsibility the owner has to do something about it.
Below, we’ll go into detail on some of the most common reasons you might need to sue a Ramada Inn. If you’d prefer to speak directly with a lawyer about your case, feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time.
Ramada Inn Swimming Pools Have Been the Sites of Multiple Serious Accidents
Ramada Inns have a troubling track record managing the specific hazards that come with maintaining swimming pools.
In particular, one Ramada Inn in Topeka, Kansas has been the site of two fatal child drownings, of a 12-year-old boy in 2013 and a 6-year-old girl in 2017. The girl was swimming at a birthday pool party, unsupervised.
In the past couple years, two other small children have been rescued and resuscitated after drowning in Ramada Inn swimming pools, a 2-year-old in Urbandale, Iowa, and a 3-year-old in Nashville, Tennessee. Although both children survived, the 3-year-old suffered serious injuries, including swelling in the brain.
Ramada Inns do not generally employ lifeguards, in spite of their effectiveness at preventing incidents like these.
In 2017, the same year as the second fatal Kansas drowning, another Kansas Ramada Inn had a different sort of safety incident with its pool. At the location in Kansas City, a woman was watching her 9-year-old daughter swim, when she reportedly noticed an employee testing the water and adding chemicals while the pool was open.
Pool chemicals can be caustic and dangerous when not properly diluted and mixed.
The woman immediately removed her daughter from the pool and took her to their room to shower, where she found blisters developing on her face. Doctors at a local ER confirmed that the blisters were symptoms of a chemical burn.
To make matters worse, a clerk at the inn responded to questions by saying that all concerns about the pool had to be handled by a single person who was only present one day per week.
Pools are a high-maintenance feature, and motels that choose to provide them must be willing to commit to daily upkeep and constant emergency readiness.
Fire Preparedness and Prevention Are Bare-Minimum Safety Measures for a Motel
Like many motel brands, Ramada Inns have also had repeated issues with fire, especially on the upper floors. This is because heat rises, and the sprinkler-free space between the roof and the top floor ceiling creates an ideal space for fire to catch and spread easily.
Two people were injured in this kind of fire at a Ramada Inn in Vinland, New Jersey, in 2017. When emergency crews arrived, people on the second (and highest) floor of the building were cornered and trying to escape through their windows.
More recently, in 2022, the roof of a Ramada Inn in Calgary, Alberta was engulfed in a fire so persistent, it was still not fully extinguished two days later. The entire building ultimately had to be demolished.
Motels, like all physical businesses, have a duty to follow their locally adapted version of the International Fire Code, and even to go above and beyond these requirements if they have reason to believe it’s necessary for safety.
At the very least, motels should always have a plan in place to make sure guests can escape unscathed if a fire does take hold. This includes:
- Maintaining working smoke alarms in every guest room.
- Providing a map in every guest room with the ideal evacuation route from that room clearly marked.
- Keeping evacuation routes clear of obstructions and tripping hazards.
- Installing emergency lighting on a separate circuit to light the evacuation route during power outages.
If you have been a victim of a Ramada Inn fire, you deserve a full investigation into what happened and how Ramada could better have protected you.
Crime Is a Predictable Threat That Motel Owners Have No Right to Ignore
A motel owner’s duty to watch for danger, and make an effort at stopping tragedies before they happen, goes beyond accident prevention. In most cases, crime is just as predictable as any type of accident.
If a particular motel, or its surrounding area, has a high rate of violent crime, the owner has an obligation to adjust the motel’s security accordingly, just as they would be obligated to make sure pools have fences, fire extinguishers are full, and spills are cleaned up.
Ramada Inns are, unfortunately, common settings for armed confrontations.
In January of 2019, at the Ramada Inn in Culver City, California, a welfare check for a potentially suicidal guest escalated into a six hour standoff, during which the guest fired on the SWAT team outside.
In February of 2023, a similar situation emerged at a Ramada Inn in Saco, Maine. A couple claiming to be armed and using hallucinogens barricaded themselves in their room with a dog and a 7-year-old child. When police broke into the room, they found the room trashed and the dog injured badly enough to require treatment at a local animal hospital.
Eight months later, yet another similar standoff happened at a Ramada in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The guest who locked himself in his room in that case was a high-risk suspect wanted for a supervised release violation. U.S Marshals joined local police in the effort to apprehend him.
Though all of the above incidents ended in peaceful enough arrests with no human casualties, that isn’t always how it goes.
A housekeeper at a Ramada Inn near Seattle heard sounds of a struggle coming from inside a locked room in 2021, and reported it to a security guard. The guard verified what she was hearing and called emergency services, which took over 45 minutes to respond. During that time, the guard called back repeatedly, saying that it sounded like the man in the room was beating his girlfriend to death. Only once the struggle was over, and the suspect called 911 himself, were emergency crews able to reach the woman. She did not survive her injuries.
Motel security never made it into the room to intervene directly. Apparently, they couldn’t get past the room’s internal latch.
People have also been murdered at Ramada Inns, by assailants other than their own roommates.
At the location in Ceder Rapids, Iowa, a shooter entered the hotel conference room and wounded six people attending a birthday party there, one of them seriously. Although the motel had security cameras, investigators had difficulty obtaining any footage, due to apparent technical issues.
Some Ramada Inns seem not to take security seriously, even after a serious incident has occurred on the property already.
In 2016, a woman and her three small children were attacked and stabbed in a Ramada Inn room in Staten Island, New York. Only one of the children survived. When a team of journalists stayed in that same motel a year later, they saw no security guard presence at all, and witnessed a man wandering the halls, yelling about wanting to shoot someone.
The main purpose of having security at a business like a Ramada Inn is to protect guests and employees from violence before it happens. Although a business should never endanger people by refusing to call 911 when necessary, good security should also, ideally, reduce the demands the business needs to place on public emergency services.
When a motel’s security regularly falls short of guests’ needs, it’s a sign that the company is not prioritizing security highly enough.
Ramada Inns Around the Country Have Been Connected with Sex Trafficking Accusations
One of the reasons why motels tend to have an especially high need for security is because they’re especially convenient venues for sex traffickers to do business. Unfortunately, this is also the reason why many motels resist improving security. In addition to wanting to avoid the cost of the security upgrades themselves, some motel owners want to keep the added profits that come with hosting the illegal sexual exploitation of human beings.
Thankfully, Georgia law recognizes businesses that knowingly enable sex trafficking as being fully responsible for the harm that trafficking causes.
The Stoddard Firm is currently pursuing a case against Ramada and its parent company, Wyndham, for allegedly participating in sex trafficking here in Georgia, at the Alpharetta location. Our client was underage during the period in question, between 2013 and 2014, and recalls her trafficker paying the inn in cash, one night at a time — a fairly common practice for criminals trying to remain untraceable.
There’s also a very similar case playing out concurrently in New Jersey, about another alleged sex trafficking incident in a Ramada Inn there.
While it’s extremely common for sex trafficking to come to light years after the fact, when the victims have had time to process their experiences and reach out, several apparent sex trafficking operations have also been discovered in real time at Ramada Inns.
In February of 2016, two 19-year-old women believed to be sex trafficking survivors were rescued from a Ramada Inn in Anaheim, California. They were only discovered there because a car parked in front of the Inn was connected with the suspected trafficking of a 15-year-old girl at a different local hotel.
A year later, police received a human trafficking complaint about the Ramada Inn in Tuscaloosa, the same one that would later host the standoff with the high-risk suspect. The inn ended up part of a month-long, city-wide sex trafficking investigation that ended with 33 arrests.
Another year later, a man was arrested for trafficking two underage victims out of a Ramada Inn in Orlando, Florida.
Then, just last year, a man and woman were arrested at the Ramada Inn in Bowling Green, Kentucky, after another woman reported that they had brought her to a hotel room, taken her phone and keys, and forced her to perform commercial sex acts with several men.
If you’ve been victimized this way in a Ramada Inn, you are not alone, and you deserve compensation. Regardless of when the incident happened, it’s worth speaking with a lawyer about your options.
The Stoddard Firm Is Willing to Take the Fight to Franchise Owners Like Wyndham
When you or someone you love has been hurt at a Ramada Inn, it’s especially important to find a lawyer who’s comfortable handling cases involving franchised businesses.
Although Wyndham owns the Ramada brand, all Ramada Inns are franchised, meaning that they’re owned and operated by smaller companies, with some materials and instructions provided by Wyndham.
Wyndham gains a steady stream of profit from its franchised Ramada locations, while denying knowledge of any mismanagement and leaving most liability on the shoulders of the franchisees. This makes it more challenging for victims to collect the full compensation they deserve, but not impossible.
The Stoddard Firm is passionate about holding mega-corporations responsible for every trauma and lost life incurred in their pursuit of profit. We have no fear of complex cases, and we celebrate every positive new precedent we get to help establish.
We’re experts in personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability, human trafficking law, and innkeeper laws, and we use our experience to help get our clients the best possible outcome.
To speak with a lawyer about your case today, reach out at 678-RESULTS, or through our online chat function, for a free consultation.