A federal judge in Orange County has dismissed a personal injury lawsuit filed by a California woman who claims she was negligently and severely injured while on an August 2011 vacation with her daughter at The Ritz-Carlton resort in Dubai.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter ruled this month that Connie A. Black's attempts to hold accountable corporate entities tied to Ritz-Carlton owner Marriot International Corp. were legally weak.
Carter's decision allows Black to re-file a complaint against RC Bermuda in a locale with proper jurisdiction, but dismisses with prejudice the case against RC Delaware.
Black had asserted that Carter's Santa Ana-based chambers inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse had jurisdiction over the entities because, in part, Ritz-Carlton's Maryland-based website is used by Californians and the hotelier advertises to this state's residents.
The judge agreed with hotel company lawyers that clear case law favored their stance that the complaint should be dismissed on the notion that subsidiaries of the same parent company can't be held mutually liable for the other subsidiary's conduct.
“The proper analogy here would be a single Holiday Inn franchise in Miami Beach and a single Holiday Inn franchise in Toronto being sued as the interchangeable agents of one another, without the governing Holiday Inn franchisor involved at all,” Carter wrote in his 19-page ruling. “The court cannot find that jurisdictional defects may be cured by collapsing two independent subsidiaries into one on a tenuous and overbroad ostensible [legal] theory.”
In her complaint, Black claimed that a hotel employee in Dubai gave her negligent information that lead her to fall several feet from marble steps as she walked to have breakfast. The fall resulted in painful injures that had to be treated in an emergency room and a ruined vacation, according to the lawsuit.
Hotel officials gave her free rooms for two nights and paid for an upgraded, business-class flight from Dubai to Los Angeles International Airport, but asked in return for Black to sign a liability release form. She refused, eventually telling Carter her injuries required several, costly orthopedic surgeries.