Westin Hotels & Resorts is part of the “premium” tier of brands belonging to the Marriott company. Just a notch below Marriott’s “luxury” offerings, Westin is marketed as a comfortable, wellness-focused option for frequent travelers.

Individual Westin locations are typically owned by franchisees, rather than by Marriott directly. These local franchise owners are not international hospitality giants like Marriott, but nor are they small family businesses — the buy-in alone for a new Westin franchise ranges from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Below, we’ll go over common reasons you might need to sue Westin Hotels & Resorts or the Marriott company. 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.

Georgia’s Own Westin Peachtree Plaza Has Been the Site of Multiple Horrific Accidents

When discussing potential negligence on Westin premises, there’s no better place to start than the Westin Peachtree Plaza, right here in Atlanta. The Westin Peachtree Plaza is, of course, the home of the Sun Dial Restaurant, where a now-infamous accident claimed the life of a 5-year-old boy in 2017. The dining room’s rotation mechanism trapped, and partially crushed, the boy’s head between a booth and a stationary exterior wall.

The Sun Dial’s floor has not rotated since that day, which might be why that particular incident has left such a strong impression on public consciousness. However, there have been other deadly accidents at the Westin Peachtree Plaza that many Atlanta residents and tourists haven’t even heard of.

The year before the Sun Dial dining room accident, an employee of the restaurant was trapped overnight in a walk-in freezer and found dead the next morning. Police determined that she had tried to use the safety exit mechanism inside the door, without success.

That same year, a 10-year-old boy fatally drowned in the hotel’s pool while attending a birthday party. A group of four guests — none of them involved with the party — reportedly retrieved his body from the bottom of the deep end. The family later told the press that no one from Westin Hotels would speak to them.

Tragedies like these may seem like “freak” accidents on the surface, but more often, they’re the result of carelessness on the venue’s part. Businesses like Westin Hotels have a responsibility to anticipate potential threats to the people on their property, and to take all reasonable steps to minimize those threats. Reasonable steps might well include regularly testing mechanical safety features, or enforcing supervision requirements for pool parties.

Electrical and Construction Issues Have Exposed Westin Guests to Major Fires

Fire prevention and preparedness is one of the most important forms of hotel safety, especially for skyscraper hotels like Westins, with their high capacity and limited escape routes.

The Westin Peachtree Plaza alone has had its share of fire safety problems. In March of 2018, a fire started in the hotel’s laundry room and spread far enough to force a shutdown of nearby roads. Two employees reported smoke inhalation injuries, and one of them required hospital care.

More recently, in 2023, the 99X radio station transmitter, located on the Westin Peachtree Plaza’s roof, burst into flames. That fire was met, not with an evacuation, but with a joking Facebook post from 99X, encouraging listeners to speculate about sabotage from rival radio personalities, all while the transmitter was still burning.

Peachtree Plaza is far from alone in its fire safety troubles under the Westin brand.

Also in 2023, major fires broke out at two separate Westin Hotels in Phoenix, Arizona. The first was at the Westin Kierland Resort, where a team of construction workers apparently sawed through a metal laundry duct without fireproofing their workspace, generating sparks and spreading them around the hotel through the ductwork itself. The resulting blaze prompted a response by over 100 firefighters.

The second was at the Westin Phoenix Downtown. It started in an electrical room on the 22nd floor and grew to a three-alarm blaze, which also required traffic shutdowns around the hotel.

Hotels are responsible for adhering to the International Fire Code, as well as taking all reasonable, common-sense precautions to prevent fire-related injuries and deaths. This includes precautions that prevent fires, like keeping wiring and appliances up to date, precautions that help contain fires, like sprinkler systems and self-closing doors, and precautions that help guests escape safely when fires do happen, like emergency lighting and evacuation maps.

If you’ve been injured in a Westin Hotel fire, you may have a case against Marriott or the hotel itself for your damages.

Protecting Against Violence Is Part of Running a Safe Hotel

Just as hotels must anticipate the hazards that come with pools, freezers, and clothes dryers, they’re also responsible for anticipating the likelihood of violence against their guests, and providing security accordingly.

Appropriate security measures vary from location to location, depending on the history of violence on and around the property, as well as other risk factors, such as the sale of alcohol. Security cameras, well-lit communal spaces, and photo ID check-in requirements are all wise precautions for just about any hotel. Higher-risk locations may also need a 24-hour security guard presence, and restrictions on what parts of the property visitors can access without checking in.

Unfortunately, there have been several shootings at Westin Hotels over the past handful of years.

In July of 2019, a man shot his friend twice at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place Hotel, before turning the gun on himself during a SWAT standoff. The first victim survived his injuries, though the shooter did not.

Three years later, a drive-by shooting at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Michigan left four men with nonfatal gunshot wounds.

The most recent Westin shooting was also in Michigan, at the Westin Hotel in Southfield. In February of 2024, a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed at a sleepover with four other teen boys. An adult had rented the Westin room for them, but was not present at the shooting. One of the other boys was arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon, after being found with two handguns, one of which turned out to be stolen.

Hotels are not automatically responsible for all criminal acts that happen on their premises, but they can be held liable if they’ve ignored past warning signs of violence and failed to invest in adequate security. The Westin Peachtree Plaza should be on particular alert at the moment and going forward — just this month, a man shot three people at the Peachtree Center food court, less than a quarter mile down the street from the Westin.

That particular shooting may not be Westin’s responsibility, but it’s stark proof of the local threat of gun violence. Westin won’t be able to claim ignorance if the next incident happens on hotel premises.

Westin Hotels Have a Troubled History with Human Trafficking

Crime in hotels isn’t always as publicly visible as a mass shooting. Human trafficking is extremely common in the hospitality industry, to the point where anti-trafficking precautions really should be as commonplace as fire safety precautions. Any hotel that chooses to enable human trafficking for profit, or simply ignores this industry-wide problem and fails to train its staff to respond to obvious signs, can be held liable for the harm to the victims.

Human trafficking falls into two main categories: sex and labor. In both cases, the trafficker uses threats, deception, or other forms of coercion to profit off of the victim’s services in an illegally exploitative way. Sex trafficking is generally more common in hotels, but the Westin brand has been connected with both kinds of trafficking over the years.

In 2009, police discovered a human trafficking ring in Kansas City, Missouri, masquerading as a staffing company. The organization had lured hundreds of people from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the Philippines with promises of legal jobs, and then sold their labor to hotels, including the Westin Crown Center. Survivors reported being paid little to nothing and threatened if they asked questions.

The next year, essentially the same thing happened in Ohio. The victims, mostly women from Eastern Europe, were found working as maids in several local hotels, including the Westin in downtown Columbus, while their traffickers withheld their wages and their passports.

In 2019, it happened yet again, in Ontario, Canada. The victims were from Mexico, and the rest of the story remains the same: false promises of legal jobs, followed by forced, unpaid labor in multiple hotels, including a Westin.

On the sex trafficking side of things, police have arrested suspected traffickers for selling victims for sex out of both the Westin Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, and the Westin Hotel in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

The Westin Hotel in Chicago was also the site of one of the key incidents that led to musician R. Kelly’s 2022 conviction for child pornography and enticing a minor. One of the women who testified against Kelly reported that he had raped her in his Westin hotel room, while she was a 16-year-old intern for Epic Records. She also said that it was part of her job to entertain and “party” with the artists. The description is certainly reminiscent of a sex trafficking arrangement.

If you’ve been coerced into performing commercial sex acts at a Westin Hotel, or working at a Westin for less than a legal wage, you may be able to collect compensation from the hotel or the Marriott company.

What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed at a Westin Hotel

To set yourself up for the best possible outcome after an accident or violent incident at a Westin Hotel, try to follow these steps as closely as you can:

  1. Protect yourself from further harm. If you are being trafficked, or if there’s an ongoing hazard at the Westin, such as a fire or a shootout, your first priority should be escaping to someplace safe, where you can plan your next steps.
  2. See a doctor. Getting medical attention quickly can help identify hidden injuries and protect you from accidentally making the damage worse. It also establishes a timeline for your condition that you may need in court.
  3. Preserve the evidence. In addition to keeping your medical records up to date, you can help build your case by holding on to any other records of what happened and when, such as your reservation confirmation. Photo or video evidence of the incident or its aftermath is also great, but don’t put yourself at risk to get it.
  4. File a report. If you were the victim of a crime at a Westin Hotel, be sure to file a police report. It’s also a good idea to quickly notify the hotel of any serious incident, either criminal or accidental. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into a detailed conversation or debate with any representative of Westin, however, until you have a lawyer to represent your own interests.
  5. Find a lawyer who handles cases against Westin Hotels. Ideally, your lawyer should have a strong track record with similar cases against big hospitality brands, and be familiar with the area where the incident occurred.

The Stoddard Firm is passionate about holding wealthy companies accountable when they disregard human health and safety, and helping survivors get the compensation they need. We’re experts on personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability, negligent security, and human trafficking law, as well as the laws and precedents surrounding franchised businesses like Westin Hotels. We’ll help you take a thorough inventory of the damages you’ve suffered, and establish exactly who is responsible for them, whether it’s Marriott, the individual Westin location, a third-party contractor, or a combination of the above.

To get started discussing your case with a hotel lawyer in Atlanta, reach out at 678-RESULTS or through our online chat function for a free consultation.

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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