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Parents Sue Atlanta Restaurant Over Death of 5-Year-Old Son

Any Georgia business that opens its doors to the public must take care to keep its premises in reasonably safe condition. This is especially important when dealing with young children, who are more prone to accidents than adults. While it may not be possible to completely child-proof a business establishment in the same manner as a home, business proprietors must still strive to identify and eliminate obvious hazards that could seriously injure or kill an innocent child.

Holt v. Marriott International, Inc.

On November 15, two parents filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court alleging negligence on the part of multiple defendants in the tragic death of their 5-year-old son. The lead defendants own and operate a popular rotating restaurant in downtown Atlanta. One day this past April, the plaintiffs and their two small children, including the victim, had lunch at this restaurant, which is actually built on a platform that rotates around a stationary core, affording patrons a 360-degree view of Atlanta.

According to the lawsuit, the restaurant has a number of “pinch points,” areas where it is possible to get wedged between the booths on the rotating platform and the stationary walls. As the family was leaving the restaurant, the victim was caught in one of these pinch points. The lawsuit said the child was “too short to see past the booth and did not appreciate the danger until it was too late.”

Although the plaintiffs screamed for help–and in particular, for a restaurant employee to stop the rotation of the platform–no such assistance came. The lawsuit said the child was crushed by the rotation, ultimately cracking his skull. The father was also injured while attempting to rescue his son. And even though emergency medical personnel finally arrived on the scene and took the victim to the hospital, he died as a result of his injuries.

The lawsuit alleges multiple negligent acts on the part of the defendants, including “[f]ailing to timely recognize the pinch point and/or the dangers associated with the pinch point,” and indeed failing to understand how these pinch points “created an unreasonably dangerous condition” for restaurant patrons. The lawsuit further claims the defendants did not install an “emergency stop button” or similar safety technology “near the pinch point so that someone could quickly stop the rotation if someone got caught” between the rotating booth and the wall, as happened to the victim here. The lawsuit also says the restaurant failed to properly train its management and staff–some of whom were also named as individual defendants–in handling these types of emergencies.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages or the wrongful death of the victim, including punitive damages, as well as associated legal fees and costs. In addition to the restaurant and its employees, the lawsuit also names the architects and interior designers who performed a renovation on the rotating restaurant during 2012 and 2013 as defendants, citing their failure to “identify the dangerous pinch point” or to take any action designed to “eliminate or warn about” the hazard.