This week we will examine several cases (in the United States and the United Kingdom) involving hotel doors and windows that use very thin, often un-tempered, glass which tourists and their small children may come up against causing severe injuries as the glass shatters.
In a recent case, Freienstein v. Mandarin Oriental New York Hotel, LLC (8/6/2014), the court noted that the injured guest “recounted that she and her boyfriend had used the room’s shower several times a day in the three days before her accident, experienced no difficulties and noticed no cracks in the shower glass door. After showering, she placed her hand on the shower door handle, about to open it, when the door explosively shattered, releasing onto her thousands of small pieces”.
Generally, hotels must have actual or constructive notice of a defect or have created the defect before liability will be imposed for a guest’s injuries. As noted by the Freienstein court in order for the hotel to escape liability for a claim “based on a dangerous condition on premises, the premises owner must make a prima facie showing that it neither created nor had notice of the dangerous condition (Early v. Hilton Hotels Corp.)”. In this case the plaintiff’s theory of recovery was that defendants “installed an ‘improperly tempered glass shower door’ which was installed in such a manner that the bar could touch the adjoining wall, thereby risking breakage”.
In opposing defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaint Plaintiff’s expert asserted that “tempered glass, when subject to certain stresses, may beak and ultimately shatter, although not at the moment of impact, but weeks later. In his expert opinion, based on Mandarin’s…admissions that the bar was centered on the door, the glass door in room 4606 touched the wall repeatedly when opened, thereby triggering the breakage. He also opines that the bar could have been installed so that it would not touch the wall and that a cushion or door jamb would have softened the impact.