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Barbara Redenbaugh v. Residence Inn By Marriott

May 10, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez


This matter is before the Court on Defendant Residence Inn by Marriott, LLC's ("Marriott") Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 43]. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is granted.


Plaintiff Barbara Redenbaugh is and was, at all times relevant to jurisdiction, a resident and citizen of Illinois, and Marriott is and was a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in Maryland. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶¶ 1-2.) The Court therefore has diversity jurisdiction over this negligence action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441. (Id. ¶ 5.)

On May 31, 2009, Defendant operated and maintained a hotel called the Residence Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile. (Id. ¶ 7.) At around 5:40 p.m. on that date, Plaintiff and her husband Steven checked into the hotel and were assigned to Room 1803, which had a kitchenette with a vinyl tile floor. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.)

Upon entering the room, Plaintiff went into the kitchenette in order to put some groceries away. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff took two or three steps on the vinyl floor, her feet slipped out from under her, and she fell. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff states that she fell directly next to a table located adjacent to the kitchenette floor. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 2.) Plaintiff did not see or feel anything wet on the floor, and her clothes were not wet after she fell. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 11.) Plaintiff testified, however, that the floor was slick. (Id.) Neither Plaintiff nor her husband has any expertise or specialized training in testing floors or other walking surfaces for slipperiness. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 45.)

Steven Redenbaugh heard Plaintiff fall and helped her off the floor and into the bedroom to rest. (Id. ¶ 13.) Steven then called the front desk to report the accident; the attendant responded that a maintenance person would be sent to the room. (Id. ¶ 14.) Jose Mendez was the maintenance worker who came to the Redenbaughs' room. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 17.) Steven told Mendez that the floor was slick and demonstrated that he could slide across it in his stocking feet. (Id. ¶ 16.) He also told Mendez that it seemed to him that someone had applied Pledge or another substance to the floor to make it slippery. (Id. ¶ 15; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 3.)

Mendez testified that he touched the area of the floor where Redenbaugh fell before cleaning it, and "it was normal, the same as the rest." (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 18.) Mendez cleaned the floor two times for fifteen minutes each, because after each cleaning, Steven told him it was still slippery. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 19; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 8.) After those two cleanings, Steven demonstrated to Heneiretta Murry, the hotel's lead housekeeper, that he could still slide across the floor in his socks. Mendez then cleaned the floor a third time, and Steven could no longer slide more than a couple of feet. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 26; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 19; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 9.)

Herminda Garcilazo is the housekeeper who had cleaned the Redenbaugh's room before they checked in. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 21.) She testified that she cleaned the room the way she had been trained to clean every room, which included applying a cleaning chemical called "Orange Force" to the floor by putting the chemical on a rag and moving the rag around the floor with a broom. (Id. ¶ 22; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 22; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 10.) The Orange Force came out of a dispensing machine on the hotel's premises. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 22.) Although employees were instructed to use aerosol furniture polish on the wood cabinets in the kitchenette, Garcilazo used a disinfectant chemical that is also obtained from the dispensing machine for cleaning the kitchenette cabinets, drawers, and counter. (Id. ¶ 23; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶¶ 14-16.) However, Garcilazo cleaned the furniture, including the table located next to the kitchenette, with the aerosol furniture polish. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 24.) When using the aerosol cleaner, she sprayed it onto a rag and then wiped the furniture with the rag; the hotel prohibits spraying the aerosol furniture cleaner directly onto furniture. (Id. ¶ 25.) Garcilazo did not use the aerosol spray to clean the chairs and legs of the table and instead used the disinfectant chemical. (Id. ¶ 24.) Garcilazo most likely cleaned the table near the kitchenette after she cleaned the kitchenette floor. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 1.)

Murry, the lead housekeeper, randomly inspected Room 1803 after Garcilazo cleaned it and before the Redenbaughs checked in. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 28.) During her inspection, she documented problems with dust/cobwebs on the windowsill, and dust on the bathroom vent, headboard, and pictures. (Id. ¶ 29.) Murry did not note any problems with the kitchenette floor. (Id. ¶ 30.) After Murry cleaned certain areas she noticed were deficient, Garcilazo returned to the room to dust the windowsill, and she does not recall doing anything else in the room. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) ¶ 5.)

Norman Golinkin, an engineer and architect, performed a slip-and-fall investigation of Room 1803's kitchenette floor.*fn2 (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 31.) He tested the slip resistence of the floor at four different locations in the area where Redenbaugh reportedly fell, using an English XL Variable Incidence Tribometer. (Id. ¶ 33.) He performed two different tests at each location: one "as is," after it had been cleaned following standard hotel procedures, and another after reapplication of the Orange Force cleaner. (Id. ¶ 35.)

The slip resistance of a floor is measured with reference to an index with values ranging from 0.0 to 1.0. A surface with a slip index of 0.5 or greater is recognized as being slip resistant and therefore considered to be a safe walking surface. (Id. ¶ 37.) All areas tested by Golinkin exceeded the industry standard for an appropriate walking surface, both before and after the Orange Force was reapplied. (Id. ¶ 40.) Golinkin also testified to a reasonable degree of architectural and engineering certainty that the material used in the kitchenette was an appropriate slip resistance flooring. (Id. ¶ 42-43.)



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