O’Fallon hotel denies liability in guest’s bed bug suit

An O’Fallon hotel denies that it was negligent in a guest’s suit alleging she was injured due to the presence of bed bugs in her room.

Sheree T. Williams filed her original complaint on Feb. 2 against Drury Hotels Co. LLC.

In her complaint, Williams alleges that she was a guest at the O’Fallon hotel on June 29, 2017, when she encountered bed bugs, causing severe and permanent injuries and scarring.

She alleges Drury failed to take proper precautions to prevent guests from becoming injured by insects, vermin and bed bugs and failed to reasonably care for and maintain its hotel rooms.

On March 14, Drury filed a motion to dismiss counts II, III, IV and V, which allege negligence, breach of warranty of habitability, breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, nuisance, fraud and misrepresentation, and premises liability.

Drury argued that the counts were improperly pled and failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

In regards to the breach of warranty of habitability allegation, Drury stated that it could find no case where the Implied Warranty of Habitability cause of action has been applied to a hotel owner or operator in Illinois.

“In fact, Illinois Courts have only allowed this cause of action in claims against landlords and builders,” the motion stated.

As for the breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment allegation, Drury argued that Illinois courts have only allowed the cause of action in claims against lessors.

Further, even where the cause of action has been allowed, damages must involve the difference between rental value and the rent paid. Instead, Williams’ complaint appears to allege “very vague” personal injury allegations, the defendant argued.

Drury also argued that Williams failed to properly plead the four elements required to prove a public nuisance allegation.

“Furthermore, there is no ‘public right’ to the hotel room, and Illinois law does not recognize a cause of action for such a claim,” the motion stated.

As for Williams’ fraud and misrepresentation claim, Drury argued that the action was not pled with specificity. An allegation of fraud should state what the representations were, when they were made, by whom they were made, and to whom they were made, the defendant argued.

“Here, plaintiff’s one paragraph vague allegation of false advertising clearly fails the pleading requirements in Illinois.

“Additionally, defendant Drury cannot find any Illinois cases where this cause of action has been applied to a hotel owner or operator in this manner in Illinois,” the motion stated.

Williams filed an amended complaint on May 15 omitting the counts which were subject to Drury’s motion to dismiss.

Drury answered the amended complaint on May 17 through attorneys Jerome Simon and Josh Breithaupt of Pitzer Snodgrass PC in St. Louis, denying liability.

In its affirmative defenses, the defendant denies that it was negligent and argues that Williams’ alleged injuries were caused by her own contributory negligence.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot scheduled a case management conference for Aug. 27.

Williams is represented by Shane M. Carnine of Hassakis & Hassakis PC in Mount Vernon.

This article was first published by Madison Record.

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