Judges Opinions, — September 28, 2022 11:11 — 0 Comments

Karen Garcia, v. Radha Holdings, LLC, Midlang Hospitality LLC, Choice Hotels International, Inc., Days Inns Worldwide, Inc., Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, LLC and Days Inn, Lebanon

Karen Garcia, v. Radha Holdings, LLC, Midlang Hospitality LLC, Choice Hotels International, Inc., Days Inns Worldwide, Inc., Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, LLC and Days Inn, Lebanon

 

Civil Action-Law-Negligence-Personal Injury-Fall on Stairs in Hotel-Discontinuance as to Less than all Defendants-Franchise Agreement-Ownership Interest in Hotel

 

Karen Garcia (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint alleging that her minor child suffered severe injuries after falling down four (4) flights of stairs through a stairwell opening on November 25, 2017 at a hotel owned by Defendants.  Choice Hotels International, Inc., (“Choice Hotels”) has filed a Motion for Leave to File a Discontinuance as to Less than all Defendants on the basis that it was not franchising the hotel in question, had no relationship to the hotel and had no responsibility for the hotel on the date of the incident.

 

  1. Pa.R.C.P. Rule 229(b)(1) provides that a discontinuance may not be entered as to less than all defendants except upon written consent of all parties or leave or court upon motion of plaintiff or any defendant for whom plaintiff has stipulated in writing to the discontinuance.

 

  1. Where Plaintiff’s counsel stipulated in writing to the discontinuance of the action against Choice Hotels, no other Defendant cross-claimed against Choice Hotels, Defendants involved in the franchise agreement for the hotel at the time of the incident concurred with the discontinuance, remaining Defendants have not responded and no Defendant has alleged prejudice relating to the continuance, leave appropriately is afforded for Choice Hotels to file a discontinuance as to less than all Defendants without prejudice in the event that later discovery would indicate some basis for liability against Choice Hotels.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. 2019-02064, Opinion by John C. Tylwalk, President Judge, December 7, 2021.

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL DIVISION

 

KAREN GARCIA,                                      :         NO. 2019-02064

Plaintiff                                   :

:

  1. :

:

RADHA HOLDINGS, LLC, MIDLANG     :

HOSPITALITY LLC, CHOICE HOTELS   :

INTERNATIONAL, INC., DAYS INNS     :

WORLDWIDE, INC., WYNDHAM            :

HOTELS AND RESORTS, LLC AND        :

DAYS INN, LEBANON,                   :

Defendants                              :

 

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 7th day of December 2021, upon consideration of Defendant Choice Hotels International, Inc.’s Motion for Leave to File a Discontinuance as to Less Than All Defendants Pursuant to Rule 229(b)(1), it is hereby Ordered that said Motion is GRANTED.

BY THE COURT:

 

                                                          ____________________________, P.J.

                                                         JOHN C. TYLWALK

 

JCT/jah

 

Cc:  Gerald J. Kincel, Esquire/4400 Deer Path Road, Suite 205/Harrisburg, PA 

           17110

       Joshua G. Ferguson, Esquire/Erin E. Lamb, Esquire/Freeman Mathis & Gary,

           LLP/1600 Market Street, Suite 1210/Philadelphia, PA  19103

       Courtney M. Wentzel, Esquire/100 Pine Street/Box 1166/Harrisburg, PA 

           17108-1166

       Days Inn Worldwide, Inc./1 Sylvan Way/Parsippany, NJ  07054

       Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, LLC/22 Sylvan Way/Parsippany, NJ  07054

       Judith Huber Esquire/Law Clerk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL DIVISION

 

KAREN GARCIA,                                      :         NO. 2019-02064

Plaintiff                                   :

:

  1.                                       :

:

RADHA HOLDINGS, LLC, MIDLANG     :

HOSPITALITY LLC, CHOICE HOTELS   :

INTERNATIONAL, INC., DAYS INNS     :

WORLDWIDE, INC., WYNDHAM            :

HOTELS AND RESORTS, LLC AND        :

DAYS INN, LEBANON,                   :

Defendants                              :

 

APPEARANCES:

 

GERALD J. KINCEL, ESQUIRE             FOR PLAINTIFF

 

                                                          FOR RADHA HOLDINGS, LLC

 

COURTNEY M. WENTZEL, ESQUIRE FOR RADHA HOLDINGS, LLC, MIDLANG

MCNEES WALLACE & NURICK            HOSPITALITY, LLC

                                                            AND DAYS INN LEBANON

 

JOSHUA G. FERGUSON, ESQUIRE      FOR CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL, INC.

ERIN LAMB, ESQUIRE

FREEMAN MATHIS & GARY, LLP

 

DAYS INN WORLDWIDE, INC.             SRL

 

 

WYNDHAM HOTELS AND           SRL

  RESORTS, LLC

 

OPINION, TYLWALK, P.J., DECEMBER 7, 2021.

 

The Complaint in this matter alleges that Plaintiff’s minor son suffered severe injuries when he fell four flights of stairs through an opening in a stairwell in Defendants’ hotel located at 625 Quentin Road in Lebanon on November 25, 2017.    The Complaint was filed on January 17, 2020 and Defendant Choice Hotels International, Inc. (“Choice Hotels”) filed its Answer with New Matter and Crossclaims against the other Defendants on March 20, 2020.[1]

Before us is Choice Hotels’ Motion for Leave to File a Discontinuance as to Less Than All Defendants Pursuant to Rule 229(b)(1).  The Motion was listed for Argument Court and all parties were notified of the briefing schedule.  No other party filed a response or submitted a brief in opposition to the Motion.

In its Motion, Choice Hotels explains that the property has been operated as a hotel through franchise agreements by various owners and management entities.  From January 20, 2006 through February 7, 2013, the hotel had been operated by an entity called Yamuna Management as a Choice Hotels franchise;  however, the franchise agreement terminated on February 7, 2013.  Choice Hotels has attached a copy of the Franchise Agreement and Termination Agreement to its Brief as Exhibits “C” and “D” respectively. [2]

On December 18, 2012, Defendant Days Inn Worldwide, Inc. and Midlang Hospitality entered a Franchising Agreement to operate the hotel as a Days Inn under the umbrella of Days Inn Worldwide, Inc. (“Days Inn Worldwide”)  Under that Agreement, the hotel was to be changed from a Quality Inn (which is part of the Choice Hotels umbrella) to a Days Inn (which is part of the Days Inn Worldwide, Inc. umbrella).  (Exhibit “F”)  On November 30, 2018, another entity, Midlang Hospitality, entered into a Franchise Agreement for the same property with Choice Hotels.  A copy of that franchise agreement was submitted as Exhibit “E.”

Choice Hotels seeks the entry of a discontinuance pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 229(b)(1), claiming that, at the time of the incident, it did not franchise the property, bore no relation to it, and had no responsibility for the property.  Rule 229(b)(1) provides:

Rule 229. Discontinuance

(b)(1) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b)(2), a discontinuance may not be entered as to less than all defendants except upon the written consent of all parties or leave of court upon motion of any plaintiff or any defendant for whom plaintiff has stipulated in writing to the discontinuance.

 

Pa.R.C.P. No. 229(b)(1).

 

Choice Hotels has filed a Statement of Concurrence indicating that Counsel for Plaintiff and Defendants Radha Holding, Inc., Midlang Hospitality, LLC and Days Inn Lebanon concur with its Motion (Exhibit “G”) and a Stipulation of Dismissal signed by Plaintiff’s counsel which provides, in part:

It is hereby stipulated and agreed to by counsel of record that Plaintiff Karen Garcia hereby voluntarily withdraws any and all claims against Defendant, CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL, INC., and such claims are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.  Defendant CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL, INC. is hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE from this matter.

 

Choice Hotels explains that the remaining defendants, Days Inn Worldwide, Inc. and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, LLC have not responded to Choice Hotels’ communications regarding the discontinuance.

Rule 229(b)(1) permits the Court to grant leave to a party to enter a discontinuance as to less than all defendants “… upon motion of any plaintiff or any defendant for whom plaintiff has stipulated in writing to the discontinuance.”  Pa.R.C.P. No. 229(b)(1).  Here, Plaintiff’s counsel has stipulated in writing to the discontinuance of this action as against Choice Hotels.  No other Defendant has filed a Cross-Claim against Choice Hotels.  The Defendants involved in the Franchising Agreement for the property at the time of this incident have concurred with the discontinuance.  The remaining Defendants have not responded to Choice Hotels’ Motion.  No Defendant has objected to Choice Hotels’ Motion or has claimed that they will suffer prejudice from the discontinuance.

The documents submitted by Choice Hotels indicate that it had no connection with the property at the time of this incident.  In the event that discovery conducted by the remaining parties would indicate some basis for liability against Choice Hotels, the discontinuance may be entered without prejudice if such facts would warrant Choice Hotels’ further involvement in this litigation.

For these reasons, we will grant Choice Hotels’ Motion and grant it leave to file a discontinuance without prejudice as to less than all Defendants in this action.

 

[1] As of the date of this Opinion, no other Defendant has responded to the Complaint.

[2] The Exhibits were attached to Choice Motels’ Brief in support of its Motion.

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