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July 2016

Gordon & Rees New Jersey Team Obtains Dismissal of Claims Against Luxury Travel Company

Gordon & Rees New Jersey partner Peter G. Siachos and associate Eugene Roymisher obtained complete dismissal of a multi-count complaint filed against their client, a worldwide luxury travel company, on a pre-answer motion to dismiss in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The plaintiff alleged that she booked a trip to Israel and the Middle East through the client to cope with the sudden and unexpected death of her husband. She claims, in light of the significant cost of the trip, her travel plan was comprised of “first class,” “high-quality travel,” and “well-established, safe hotel accommodations.”

At the first of the many stops on her trip, the plaintiff stayed at a high-end hotel in Amman, Jordan. After arriving in Jordan and attending a welcome banquet for all of the travelers on the trip, the plaintiff could not locate her cell phone. She asked the concierge desk if they could help her contact the airline and check the airport’s lost and found. She claims a concierge employee of the hotel recommended that he first assist with a thorough search of her room for the phone. Once in the room, the plaintiff claims the concierge employee sexually assaulted her. The plaintiff immediately returned home and cancelled the remainder of her trip after the alleged assault. Upon returning to the United States, the plaintiff retained Whitney Houston’s attorney to bring suit against the firm's client for assault and battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligent provision of security, breach of express warranties, and breach of implied warranties.

Gordon & Rees moved to dismiss all of these claims on the basis that the client, which only booked the trip for the plaintiff, could not be held to be vicariously liable for the actions of a concierge employee of a hotel located in the Middle East. Gordon & Rees also relied on the exculpatory clause and disclaimers of warranties in the travel booking agreement in moving to dismiss. The plaintiff’s counsel argued in opposition that the advertisements in the travel brochure constituted a promise by the travel company to keep the plaintiff safe during her travels in the Middle East. The plaintiff also argued that the client should have known of “sexual assaults” in Amman, Jordan against “Western women.” The Court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments and dismissed all claims against the client.


Peter G. Siachos