Rodeway Inn is a hospitality brand owned by Choice Hotels, the same company that owns Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, and EconoLodge. Individual Rodeway Inn locations are franchised, which means that a smaller business manages the day-to-day operations while paying fees to, and receiving some instructions from, Choice Hotels.
This arrangement can complicate lawsuits against Rodeway Inn, because there’s always the question of which company is truly responsible for what happens in a particular inn. However, at the end of the day, if a guest is injured by negligence at a Rodeway Inn, someone owes that guest compensation.
Below, we’ll go into detail on some of the most common reasons you might need to sue a Rodeway Inn, and how you can set yourself up for success. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a hotel lawyer in Georgia, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Hotels Have a Duty to Protect Guests from Preventable Harm, Accidental or Otherwise
For most people, the words “premises liability” probably bring to mind the standard trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall type of accident, but a business owner’s responsibility for maintaining safe premises goes far beyond clean, level floors.
Physical businesses like hotels are responsible for any harm that befalls their guests, as long as two things are true:
- The harm could have been predicted, based on common sense or past events.
- There were steps the business could reasonably have taken to better protect the guest from that harm.
These conditions apply to simple accidents where a guest slips on an unmarked spill, certainly. However, they also apply to events like structure fires, where the hotel was unprepared for a safe evacuation, and even criminal violence, where the hotel did not provide appropriate security.
For example, one couple recently won $11 million from a Rodeway Inn in Miami, Florida, and a further $5 million from the hotel’s security company, after staff and guards reportedly stood by and did nothing while the couple was assaulted.
A business’s role in what happens on its property may not always be immediately obvious. Some events that seem random and unpredictable may actually be part of long-established patterns. If you’re not sure whether those two conditions apply to your particular case, a lawyer can help you find out.
Rodeway Inn Swimming Pools Have Proven Particularly Deadly
Any swimming pool without a strong lifeguard presence can be dangerous, especially for children. Amateur supervision is rarely perfect, and fatal drownings can occur within a momentary lapse of concentration.
However, other aspects of pool maintenance, such as chemical balance, temperature, lighting, and fencing, can also affect the risk of an accident. That’s part of why two different hotel chains that both provide unguarded pools might have drastically different incident rates.
Over the course of the past decade, there have been at least nine drowning deaths associated with Rodeway Inn swimming pools:
- In summer of 2014, a 13-year-old boy drowned while swimming with his 18-year-old brother in a Rodeway Inn pool in Milwaukie, Wisconsin. Their mother reported that both brothers were floating on the water and then suddenly went under. The older one made it to the surface and then tried to help the younger, but it was too late. She also says that the chlorine level in the pool was high enough to discolor their hair, and an incident report confirms that the water temperature was over 100 degrees, 20 degrees above the recommended level.
- Three summers later, a 24-year-old man also drowned in that same Milwaukie pool. His family saw him backflip into the deep end and then struggle to surface. His 11-year-old niece reported that she was the only other family member present with swimming skills, and that she tried to help him but could not swim deep enough. Both families affected by the Milwaukie drownings say that the victims themselves were strong swimmers.
- Also in the summer of 2017, bystanders pulled an unresponsive 4-year-old boy from the pool of a Rodeway Inn in Fort Collins, Colorado. A staff member and a family member attempted CPR while awaiting emergency crews, but the boy was pronounced dead at the hospital.
- In summer of 2020, almost the same thing happened at a Rodeway Inn pool in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Another child younger than 5 fell in and lost consciousness. Adults attempted CPR, but the child died under hospital care.
- In May of 2022, guests at a Rodeway Inn in Galveston, Texas heard cries for help coming from the pool area at around 1 a.m. A woman responding to the disturbance found a 3-year-old girl unconscious in the water and attempted CPR, but did not immediately notice that that the girl’s mother was also unconscious in the dark water. She would later note to reporters that the pool officially closed at 10 p.m., but that the gate was never locked. Both mother and daughter died.
- Most recently, in late summer of 2023, a 58-year-old father and his twin 10-year-old sons all drowned in the pool of a Rodeway Inn in St. Augustine, Florida. All three were airlifted to nearby hospitals, but none survived.
If you have also suffered a tragedy at a Rodeway Inn pool, there’s a good chance that the inn’s management of their pool facilities played a role.
Rodeway Inn Has a Serious, Ongoing Problem with Sex Trafficking
The sex trafficking industry is so pervasive, so lucrative, and so historically intertwined with the hospitality industry that it’s virtually impossible to find a major hotel chain that has never collaborated with sex traffickers for profit.
However, new legal precedents, allowing survivors to hold hotel owners accountable in court, have made it significantly less appealing for otherwise legitimate business owners to associate themselves with sex trafficking.
Many hotel chains have revamped their business models in recent years to be (or at least appear) less welcoming to sex traffickers. Unfortunately, this shift can not be observed in the latest goings-on at Rodeway Inn locations.
Within the past year alone:
- A 16-year-old runaway ended up being trafficked to multiple men out of a Rodeway Inn in New Port Richey, Florida, within just two weeks of being reported missing.
- Two women and a teenage girl in Monroeville, Pennsylvania told an investigator that a man had been trafficking them for sex, keeping the money, and threatening them with violence if they tried to leave. All the investigator had to do to obtain their report was knock on their door at a Rodeway Inn while the man was away, and ask. Apparently, this was more than the staff had ever done.
- A man was arrested for coercing his girlfriend into having commercial sex for him in a Rodeway Inn in Grandville, Michigan, by threatening her and her children.
- A man and woman were arrested for trafficking another woman out of a Rodeway Inn in Miami, Florida. The victim was trying to leave an abusive relationship in Oklahoma, and the woman reportedly lured her to Florida with promises of a better life. When police found her, the man was holding her 1-year-old child hostage to force her to cooperate. Thankfully, they were ultimately able to rescue the child as well.
The Choice Hotels company, and indeed all hotel owners, have had more than enough opportunities to commit to fighting sex trafficking, and to train their staff in how to do so. If you have been sexually exploited at a Rodeway Inn, you have a good chance of being able to collect significant compensation.
Multiple Cities Have Shut Down Rodeway Inns for Being Alleged Crime Hubs
The way a hotel is managed affects the likelihood of crime, not just on the property itself, but in the surrounding area. For this reason, cities sometimes shut down local hotels that have come to be connected with an unusually high volume of criminal incidents. The process for doing so depends heavily on local law.
Two Rodeway Inn locations have been shut down this way in the past year, one in May, in Grand Chute Wisconsin, and one in October, in Miamisburg, Ohio.
In order to enforce its shutdown, Miamisburg had to pass a new ordinance requiring all local hotels to undergo annual inspection for, among other things, anti-human trafficking measures and general security.
Grand Chute had existing regulations, which allowed it to simply revoke the Rodeway Inn’s operating license, citing code violations and repeated complaints of sex crimes and illegal drug activity. Past incidents at the location included an arrest for child enticement, and a report of a sexual assault in an unregistered room, involving multiple assailants.
These were not the first two Rodeway Inns to cease operation this way either. Back in 2016, the city of Orange Park, Florida filed a petition to shut down its local Rodeway Inn franchise, stating that the owner had repeatedly failed to meet their conditions for continued operation. These included measures against alleged drug and sex trafficking, and the repair of an inoperable fire alarm system. The hotel did ultimately close that year, after briefly undergoing a name change.
By the time a hotel reaches the point of an enforced shutdown, there have typically been hundreds of 911 calls from the premises, and thousands of guests subjected to unsafe conditions of one kind or another, yet relatively few survivors ever pursue justice in court.
If you’ve been injured on Rodeway Inn premises, whether by crime or by accident, choosing to fight for accountability can help bring the problems to light faster and protect others from becoming victims.
What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed at a Rodeway Inn
As you make your way through the aftermath of an accident or violent altercation at a Rodeway Inn, try to keep these essential priorities in mind.
- Remove yourself from danger — If the incident that harmed you was brief and sudden, like a fall down the stairs, this priority may not be relevant. However, if you’re in an ongoing sex trafficking situation, or there’s some other continuing threat to your safety, escape should be your first concern.
- Seek immediate medical care. Addressing and documenting your injuries in a timely manner is crucial to both your health and your case.
- Document everything. In addition to medical documentation of your physical condition, it’s a good idea to start a collection of general evidence. If you’re able to take pictures of the scene immediately after the incident, do so. Also hang onto any communication between you and other involved parties, reservation confirmations, bills from incident-related expenses, etc.
- Refuse to be sabotaged. There’s a chance that representatives from the Rodeway Inn may offer you money or tell you that you need to record a statement. The only reason for them to do this is to stop you from collecting a larger amount later. Refuse to engage until you can refer them to your lawyer.
- Find the right lawyer. Your lawyer should have experience with similar lawsuits against franchised hotels, and should ideally be located near where incident occurred.
The Stoddard Firm has experts in premises liability, wrongful death, sex trafficking law, negligent security, and innkeeper laws. We’re passionate about holding large companies accountable when they endanger people for profit, and above all, we’re committed to getting every one of our clients the best possible outcome.
Whenever possible, we’ll take the fight beyond the local franchise owner, to Choice Hotels itself. We’ll perform a thorough investigation into the events leading up to your incident, and we’ll help you assess the damage to your life, honestly and thoroughly, so that your final settlement properly reflects the severity of what happened.
To get started discussing your case today, call 678-RESULTS, or reach out through our online chat function for a free consultation.