Last updated: 12:11 PM ET, Tue February 09 2016

Couple Awarded $83K in Lawsuit Over Hotel Fire Alarm

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | February 09, 2016

Couple Awarded $83K in Lawsuit Over Hotel Fire Alarm

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Mount Laurel, New Jersey's Hotel ML will pay dearly for a series of bizarre and unfortunate events that took place two years ago.

The Courier-Post reported that the hotel came out on the wrong end of a lawsuit filed by a Pennsylvania couple seeking $175,000 in damages stemming from a February 2014 incident that began with an unexpected fire alarm.

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Laura and Michael Bongard decided to sue the three-star property after Laura was seriously injured while evacuating the hotel in subfreezing temperatures. Arbitrator Daniel Distasi said Laura was carrying her child to the car in the hotel parking lot when she slipped and injured her knee, leading to $23,000 in medical costs.

"It is clear that the Hotel ML staff did not in any way inspect the parking area and/or attempt to treat the area where Ms. Bongard fell," Distasi told the Courier-Post.

Distasi said the hotel staff "provided minimal, if any, guidance" to the Bongards and others guests as they were instructed to exit the building after gathering in the lobby shortly before midnight. Distasi also said that the hotel staff were aware of the risks outside of the hotel because they had reached out to a local landscaping firm just hours earlier.

The Bongards were awarded less than half of what they were seeking in the lawsuit, coming away with approximately $83,500.

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Hotel ML's operator will be required to cover 70 percent of the awarded damages, while Cherry Hill-based Decker's Landscaping — which failed to make it out to the hotel prior to the fire alarm sounding — must pay the remainder.

It's unclear what prompted the fire alarm. But the Courier-Post, citing the arbitrator's ruling, reported both the hotel and landscaping firm attempted to seek funds from a woman who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct following the incident.


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