In April, the most experienced personal injury attorneys in the U.S. met in a California state courtroom to commence a premises liability trial over what could have been a fatal outcome in 2015. Journey Hudson, the daughter, sustained her injury in a hot tub, leaving the hotel where they resided under fire. She allegedly suffered brain damage after fainting.

Trial lawyers provided opening statements on behalf of Angelique Anderson’s child against the opposing legal team defending Howard Johnson hotel in Anaheim, California. Dana Fox of Lewis Brisbois is one of the leading personal injury attorneys in California, according to Courtroom View Network (CVN). Fox defended the hotel stance on denying liability for the accident.

The Premise Behind the Case
Both Anderson and her daughter stayed at the hotel during a trip to Disneyland. She was six years old at the time of injury. Hudson was left unsupervised in a hot tub in the hotel water park. She was found face down and unresponsive. It was not until emergency treatment where they realized she would suffer from a life-long brain injury that would leave her in a childlike state.

The hotel argued her brain damage resulted from a pre-existing viral infection and lack of supervision. However, their legal counsel felt differently. Littlepage Booth Leckman, one of three attorneys representing Anderson and Hudson, believed the company is trying to evade liability.

“This is a case about a hotel that put profits over safety,” Littlepage told the jury, according to CVN. “The hotel’s decisions about this children’s waterpark were negligent.”

The hot tub had been installed in 1965 and remained when the hotel built a water park in the early 2000s. That meant that it did not meet California’s new safety regulations. They found more than 50 code violations in the park, including:

  • The hot tub was not barricaded to prevent children from accessing it
  • The park did not effectively monitor the park on camera
  • There were no trained lifeguards on the premises

In California, hot tubs used by children must have a temperature setting between 95-98 degrees. In this case, the tub had malfunctioned and reached between 106 to 109 degrees. Littlepage used this evidence to prove a child’s susceptibility to hot water. Hudson sustained scorching burns on her body and a spiking temperature. The circumstances would have been different had there been a trained lifeguard to prevent injury or provide immediate medical attention upon notice.

Does the Mother Share Liability?
The hotel claimed lack of supervision from the mother is why Hudson suffered from such a devastating injury. Whereas the plaintiff’s legal team stated, Anderson observed the tub before allowing her daughter to use it. To her knowledge, the temperature should not have risen until the jets activated.

Fox pointed out there was a large sign outside of the pool entrance that stated no lifeguard would be on duty. Children younger than 16 would have to be supervised by an accompanying adult. “There was no sign that said staff at the water playground would be responsible for taking care of her child or watching her child,” she told the jury, according to CVN.

What About the Viral Infection?
In a medical statement issued by the doctor, Hudson was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis. This condition impacted her hands, feet, and mouth. In severe cases, it caused brain swelling in victims. This made it difficult to prove the injuries had a direct correlation to hot tub use.

Reach Out to An Attorney
Unfortunately, a verdict has yet to be reached. Each side provided the jury with expert testimony from witnesses and experts. The trial is expected to continue this month. If you or a loved one were hurt, and want to file a premises liability lawsuit, reach out to our trusted personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles.