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McCann v. Miller

December 7, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Goldberg, J.


This case revolves around a physical altercation occurring at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott on February 8, 2006, between representatives of two unions. At issue are two Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiffs, who argue that the evidence of record establishes that the owners of the hotel, Defendants Philadelphia Airport Hotel Limited Partnership and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. (collectively referred to as "Marriott"), breached their duty to Plaintiffs. Marriott has also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment raising the same issue, claiming that there is no evidence supporting Plaintiffs' claims. Because we find that Plaintiffs have not provided sufficient evidence that Marriott breached its duty to Plaintiffs, the claims against Marriott will be dismissed. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The incident in question arose following the announcement of a merger between US Airways and America West. Prior to the merger, America West workers were primarily represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), and US Airways workers were primarily represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Plaintiffs, Frank McCann, Frank Trotti, Jeff Osborne, Joseph Carbone, and Timothy Grandfield, were union organizers for the TWU. In preparation for the merger, and in an attempt to recruit new TWU members, Plaintiffs planned to hold informational meetings at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott on February 7 and 8, 2006. (Marriott's Statement of Undisputed Facts, ¶¶ 1-4).

On the morning of February 8, 2006, Plaintiffs observed a group of men assembled outside of the meeting room. Before their meeting began, three men entered the room and threatened Plaintiffs with violence unless they abandoned the meeting. A few minutes after the three men left, the group of men that had been outside entered the meeting room and attacked Plaintiffs. As a result of the altercation, Plaintiffs suffered numerous physical injuries. (Marriott's Statement of Undisputed Facts, ¶¶ 19-25, 27-29, 32-33).

As a result of this incident, on November 2, 2007, Defendants, David Strange, Anthony Armideo, Robert Gallagher, Jason McGuigan, Robert Carr, Jerry Molinari, Vincent Ceraso and Robert Boland, pled guilty to simple assault and conspiracy to commit assault. Defendants, Michael DeJesse and Jack Johnson, proceeded to trial, and on November 27, 2007, a jury found them guilty of conspiracy to commit assault; not guilty of assault.

On January 31, 2008, Plaintiffs, Trotti, Osborne, Carbone, and Grandfield, filed an action against Marriott and numerous other Defendants. On February 4, 2008, Plaintiff McCann filed a similar action.*fn1 The complaints generally allege that Marriott breached its duty to Plaintiffs by failing to protect them from injury on the hotel premises and state that:

73. [] Defendant Marriott failed to exercise its special obligations to Plaintiffs who were its guests and business invitees by:

a. failing to provide adequate protection for the meeting at which the assault and battery took place

b. failing to warn Plaintiffs about the gathering, riotous crowd of attackers assembled outside of the meeting room where Plaintiffs were located

c. failing to have its security personnel intervene for the purpose of protecting Plaintiffs from the riotous and physically harmful acts of Defendants; and

d. failing to adequately and promptly respond to the circumstances then and there existing.

(Trotti Complaint, ¶ 73; See also McCann Complaint, ¶ 71).

On June 29, 2009, Plaintiffs filed two Motions for Summary Judgment against Marriott, and Marriott responded with its own Motion for Summary Judgment.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment may be entered where there are no genuine issues as to any material fact and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). The evidence presented must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. The inquiry is whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one sided that one party must, as a matter of law, prevail over the other. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986). The Court's function in deciding a Motion for Summary Judgment is not to decide disputed questions of fact, but only to determine whether genuine issues of fact exist. Id. at 248-249.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. After the moving party has met its initial burden, summary judgment is appropriate if the non-moving party fails to rebut by making a factual showing "sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322.

B. Negligence and Innkeeper Liability

Plaintiffs have raised negligence claims against Marriott. To sustain a negligence claim in Pennsylvania, a plaintiff must establish: (1) the existence of a duty; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) a causal relationship between the breach and complained of injury; and (4) actual loss or ...

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