Claims of Type-S Lime Dust on Hotel Property

Richard Millard v. Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc.

Date: May 2015
Party represented: Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc.
Venue: Superior Court of the State of California County of San Diego
Length of trial: 7 days
Type of case:



Defense Verdict

WWHGD received a defense verdict on behalf of a large property management company in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, in a case in which a hotel management services worker claimed approximately $72,000,000.00 in economic damages arising out of his alleged exposure to a chemical in the crawlspace of a hotel in San Diego, California.

Plaintiff claimed that he was overcome by dolomitic hydrated “Type-S” lime dust while turning off a valve in the crawlspace to stop a water leak located in the restroom in the lobby of the hotel.  Plaintiff had to be carried out of the crawlspace by a co-worker.  After the plaintiff was extricated from the crawlspace, his co-worker and a security guard experienced symptoms allegedly related to exposure to the dust, including vomiting and burning of the nose, mouth, and throat. Paramedics arrived to the hotel, and one became ill when attending to the plaintiff. As a result, the Hazardous Material Team of the San Diego Fire Department was dispatched to the hotel to investigate. OSHA issued numerous safety citations to the Plaintiff’s employer as a result of the incident.

Plaintiff claimed that the property management company negligently failed to warn him of the presence of, and the dangers associated with, hydrated lime in the crawlspace.  He also claimed that the property management company was liable under a theory of premises liability.  The property management company denied the plaintiff’s allegations, and argued that he could not sufficiently prove that he was exposed to the at-issue substance.

It was undisputed that the plaintiff developed tracheobronchomalacia, a serious lung disease, following the incident. At the time of trial, the plaintiff was given less than three years to live. He did not seek punitive damages, but requested approximately $72,000,000.00 in economic damages, in addition to pain and suffering damages.  Following a one week trial, the jury handed a complete defense verdict to the property management company. Following the verdict, the court entered a judgment for costs in favor of the property management company in the approximate amount of $450,000.00.



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