Hilton removes Alabama woman's slip-and-fall suit to federal court

By Bethany Krajelis | Aug 2, 2013

Hilton Management LLC has removed a Cook County premises liability lawsuit stemming from a slip over “a puddle of coffee” to federal court.

In a removal notice filed Aug. 1, Hilton contends that the suit Sallie Charly brought in June in the Cook County Circuit Court belongs in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois because diversity of citizenship exists between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

Charly, an Alabama resident, asserts that she was a paying guest and occupying a room at Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue on July 3, 2011 when she slipped over a puddle of coffee in the lobby area and hallway of the building.

She claims that Hilton violated its duty to exercise ordinary care in its maintenance and cleaning of its premises by allowing the puddle of coffee to exist and create a “slick and slippery condition.”

As a result of the hotel’s allegedly careless and negligent maintenance, Charly contends in her suit that she fell and suffered injuries to her right shoulder, chest, neck, back, wrists, hands and cervical area.

In addition to enduring “great nervous shock, pain and suffering,” Charly claims she had and will continue to have to spend money on medical care and has and will continue to lose money in wages because of the slip-and-fall incident.

Her suit includes four premises liability counts, one against each of the following defendants: Hilton Worldwide Inc., Chicago Hilton LLC, Hilton Hotels Corp. and Chicago Hilton and Towers

Hilton Management, however, asserts in its removal notice that it was incorrectly sued under some of those names.

To bolster support for the suit’s removal to federal court, Hilton notes that diversity of citizenship exists as it is a Delaware LLC, Hilton Worldwide is a Delaware LLC based in Virginia and Charly is an Alabama resident.

Hilton Management also contends that federal court is the proper place for Charly’s complaint because it believes that “there is a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds” the state court’s jurisdictional amount of $50,000 and could be more than “$75,000, exclusive of interests and costs.”

Chicago attorney Robert J. Comfort of Johnson & Bell Ltd. submitted the notice of removal on Hilton Management’s behalf.

Constantine N. Dranias and Robert A. Wilson of Dranias, Harrington & Wilson represent Charly.

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