What Happened

Our Virginia personal injury client was a college student who suffered severe hand injuries while staying at a Marriott hotel in Northern Virginia. The man was placing a glass carafe on the heating pad of his in-room coffeemaker when the carafe shattered.

A shard of glass cut deeply into the webbing between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. He notified the front desk of the accident and went to the hospital, where doctors identified damage to one of his metacarpophalangeal joints, a partially severed tendon and a severed nerve.

Our client returned to school in New England and underwent orthopedic surgery. The procedure restored only about 90 percent of function, leaving our client facing a lifetime of thumb stiffness and reduced grip strength.

By the time the man who had been completing a paid practicum in preparation to become a licensed teacher hired our Virginia personal injury law farm, he had accumulated nearly $11,000 in unpaid medical bills and lost approximately $3,000 in wages.


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Key Legal Strategy

We filed insurance claims against both the hotel and the company that made the carafe. We uncovered evidence that the carafe manufacturer knew or should have know that its product had defects in design that put people who used it at risk for injury. Accidents very similar to the one experienced by our client had been reported earlier.

We also maintained that hotel management acted negligently in placing a defective and defective glass carafe in our client’s room. Even without knowing of any particular risks from the specific product, shatterproof metal and plastic-ceramic carafes are widely available and in use by other hotels.

The product maker and hotel management company agreed to settle the claims without going to trial. The case ended with our Virginia personal injury client receiving a total of $70,000, with $25,000 coming from the hotel and $45,000 being paid by the carafe maker.

Pursing both a product liability claim and a premises liability claim allowed us to maximize financial recoveries for the injured young man. We also affirmed the legal duties placed on companies to protect the health and well-being of their customers by making and supplying safe products.

Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, staff attorney