CHICAGO – A federal judge has cut short a personal injury lawsuit brought by a woman who claims she tripped and fell on a paver on a terrace at Chicago's Omni Hotel.
On Dec. 3, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin ruled in favor of the owners of the Omni, granting the hotel summary judgment in the litigation brought by plaintiff Diana Vazquez.
"Illinois law does not impose an absolute duty upon property owners to ensure the safety of its residents," Durkin wrote. "Rather, the law imposes a duty of reasonable care upon property owners to remedy dangerous situations of which they knew or should have known. No reasonable jury could find that Omni breached its duty of care to plaintiff with respect to the paver."
Vazquez sued Omni Hotels Management Corp. accusing the hotel of negligence following an accident at the Omni Hotel in Chicago in 2015. The opinion said Vazquez had been staying at the hotel with her family to attend a parade in honor of the Chicago Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup victory.
According to the opinion, hotel management said they inspect the terrace and had not received any complaints about the paver. Another Omni worker said he had to address an incident in which the pavers were uneven, but he didn’t remember when.
The court first looked at the duty of care Omni had as it relates to the de minimis exception, under which courts have held organizations don’t have a responsibility to keep all walkways in perfect condition at all times.
In this case, Omni pointed out the paver that Vazquez tripped on was raised less than 1.5 inches, so it claimed the allegations fell under the de minimis exception. Vazquez, on the other hand, argued her problem was that the paver was uneven, not its height, which makes the area unlike a sidewalk.
The court agreed with Omni in its breach of duty care argument that Omni wasn’t aware of any alleged defect.
“There is no evidence in the record either that the alleged defect existed for a sufficient amount of time so that it would have been discovered using ordinary care, or that it was part of a pattern of conduct or a recurring incident,” the judge wrote.
The judge noted dozens of people walked across the pavers with no issue, not counting the one issue the Omni employee described during his testimony. The judge determined Omni didn’t breach its duty of care.
Vazquez is represented by attorneys Terry M. Lachcik and Daniel E. Goodman, of the Law Office of Daniel E. Goodman LLC, of Rosemont.
Omni is represented by attorneys Keith Sho Yamaguchi and Courtney A. DeBlis, of the firm of Kaplan, Massamillo & Andrews LLC, of Chicago.