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Hotel corporation to pay $1 million in trip-and-fall case

The owners of the former Holiday Inn on North Frontage Road agreed this week to pay $1 million to a 77-year-old St. Louis woman who fractured her elbow after tripping over a loose carpet and falling as she left the hotel's restaurant.

Heritage New London LLC, the corporation that owns the property and managed the hotel, agreed to the settlement after five days of jury selection in New London Superior Court.

Norma Minke was part of a visiting tour group that stayed at the hotel on Oct. 3, 2010, according to her attorney, Joseph M. Barnes of the Reardon Law Firm. She was walking from the restaurant into the front lobby when she tripped on a bunched and wrinkled carpet, catching her toe, falling and landing on her elbow.

Minke had five surgeries, and when the elbow would not heal correctly, underwent elbow replacement surgery, Barnes said.

Her medical bills totaled $240,000, which will be reimbursed with proceeds from the settlement, he said.

During the discovery process, Barnes deposed the corporation owner, Sunil Nayak of Princeton, N.J. Barnes said he learned that as early as 2009, Holiday Inn, which was threatening to pull the hotel's license because of various maintenance issues, had inspected the hotel and reported that the carpet in the restaurant was loose. The report specifically identified the location of the incident, Barnes said. He also discovered that members of the hotel staff had tripped on the rug and complained to management.

"It was supposed to be secured flush to the ground and all the way to the walls, and it had worn over time where it was forming wrinkles and bunches," Barnes said.

Attorney Paul Meade of the Hallor & Sage law firm, who represented the hotel corporation, could not immediately be reached for comment.

- Karen Florin


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