A man who ended up in a young girl’s bed at a Ritz-Carlton near St. Louis in a drunken room mix-up has settled with her in court for $50,000.
Her lawsuit continues toward trial Aug. 4 with one remaining defendant: the upscale hotel’s operator.
The girl’s parents, from St. Louis County, seek unspecified compensatory damages and upwards of $5 million in punitive damages on her behalf.
Daniel Hughes, 45, was acquitted in April of criminal charges relative to the March 6, 2011, incident.
In town for a business conference, Hughes, of Conshohocken, Pa., had been out drinking with colleagues and upon returning to the hotel was given the wrong room key at the front desk.
The girl, 9 at the time, claimed Hughes touched her sexually.
Hughes’ attorney, Scott Rosenblum, did not deny that his client was in her bed but raised questions about the girl’s account and a police report that claimed Hughes confessed to molestation.
Rosenblum argued that Hughes, in a drunken state, had believed he was in his own room, and that he thought the female in his bed was someone he had been out with earlier. He denied any sexual contact beyond intimate cuddling.
The civil suit was filed the same month. The claim against Hughes – that he showed reckless indifference with his actions that night – is the first to settle.
The settlement, approved June 26, provides that five yearly payments of $10,000 be placed in a bank account in her name; it relieves Hughes from any further claims.
Maurice Graham, the plaintiff’s attorney, said he believes the criminal case outcome had “little or no impact” on the civil claims, and declined further comment. Hughes’ attorney could not be reached.
Claims against Hughes’ then-employer, Enterprise Fleet Management, and the hotel’s owner, Maritz, Wolff & Co., were dismissed earlier this year. Enterprise fired Hughes after the incident.
The remaining claim is that the Ritz was careless and negligent when its front desk clerk provided Hughes with a key to the wrong room. The criminal trial revealed that Hughes had asked for that number, confusing it with a room he had occupied previously.
The lawsuit claims the hotel should have provided better policies and employee training.
An attorney for the Ritz, Joseph Swift, declined to comment Monday.
Lawyers for the hotel have argued in court filings that the Ritz had no legal obligation to protect patrons from a third party whose conduct was unforeseeable, and that any harm the girl suffered was not the fault of any negligence by the clerk.
| The Associated Press