(AP) – The family of a 5-year-old boy whose skull was crushed in the rotating wall of a hotel restaurant has sued the Atlanta hotel, accusing it of negligence in his death.
Attorney Joseph Fried filed suit Wednesday for Rebecca and Michael Holt of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose son Charlie died April 14.
“What started out as the best family trip, turned into the worst nightmare,” Rebecca Holt said in a statement emailed by Fried.
They had chosen the Sun Dial restaurant “because it was recommended as a fun place for families with kids to see the Atlanta skyline and enjoy a meal,” Charlie’s father, Michael Holt, said in the statement.
Marriott International, the hotel’s owner, didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone call requesting comment.
Police had said the boy wandered away from his family’s window table at the restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel and got his head stuck between tables. They also said the rotating floor shut off automatically when he was struck.
The lawsuit disagrees with police statements.
It said the family left along a path that various members had used without problems to go to and from the bathroom. But this time, it said, a booth rotating near a stationary wall blocked their path.
Charlie, a few steps ahead of his parents, “was too short to see past the booth and did not appreciate the danger until it was too late,” and was trapped in the “pinch point” between booth and wall, according to the lawsuit.
“To Michael’s and Rebecca’s horror, the rotation did not automatically stop when Charlie got trapped,” the lawsuit states, and there was no emergency button to stop it.
Rebecca Holt tried to pull her son free and Michael Holt “threw his body against the booth,” but both actions were futile, it said.
It said Michael Holt heard his son’s skull crack before someone finally stopped the rotation.
“The family has filed this lawsuit to set the record straight about what happened and to make sure, to the best of their abilities, that no other family ever has to suffer the same fate,” Fried’s statement said.
Defendants include Marriott, as well as the chain that previously owned the Peachtree before Marriott bought the chain. Also named are other former owners and operators, and the architects, interior designer and contractor in charge of renovations to the restaurant in 2012 and 2013.
The hotel reopened the restaurant in June.
“After Charlie’s death, Marriott has said that it won’t allow the restaurant to revolve again until it has addressed the dangerous pinch points,” Fried’s statement said. “Marriott should not have waited for this tragedy before acting to correct this hazard, especially while it held itself out as a safe place for kids.”