Friday, August 14, 2009

Nashville's Newest Premier Convention Center Hotel Revictimizes a Rape Victim

Betsy Phillips refers us to the latest blemish on Mayor Karl Dean's plans to build a new Music City Center and adjoining Marriott Marquis hotel: the troglodytic Marriott management has decided to blame a crime victim herself for being raped in one of their Connecticut parking garages in front of her own children. And if their totally philistine attack on the victim's motherhood weren't enough, they are also exercising their own hypocrisy by blaming her for not having foresight while absolving themselves from all discernment for criminals hanging out in their garage:
The hotel also claims as a special defense that the acts were unforeseen and beyond their control, that the woman and her children failed to properly "mitigate their damages,"
Arguing that a rape victim is responsible for the crimes of her attacker because she should have known better than to be in a Marriott parking garage is sort of like blaming the Marriott Corporation for terrorist attacks on their hotels when they should know better than to build them in the first place.

Looks like the hotel picked to anchor the proposed convention center is a real dog, ya'll.


  1. I agree with you on most points about the convention center, and don’t get me wrong, I’m all for piling on Marriott. However, let’s also keep in perspective what we actually know (and for full disclosure, what I “know” is from 3-4 articles and not the actual court pleadings).

    A person committed a horrible crime. We don’t know anything about his mental state, but regardless, truly an evil act. The criminal has been sentenced to 20 years in prison as a result of a plea bargain. The victims of that crime will undoubtedly be scarred for life.

    My assumption is that the criminal has no money, the main reason one would not pursue a civil action against him. The victim, herself, not anyone else, brought the crime back into the limelight by suing Marriott for money. Undoubtedly, Marriott offered the woman something in the way of a settlement. Even if the hotel was completely blameless, as is sometimes the case, no business wants this type of publicity. Equally undoubtedly, the victim’s lawyer said, that’s not enough, I think I’ll take my chances with a jury of people who will be more focused on the horrible crime and less focused on the “legal” cause, and advised his client the same about a large payday. Victim takes advice, files lawsuit “alleging” as many facts as she can to establish Marriott’s liability. Mind you, these are unproven allegations with respect to Marriott’s actions.

  2. Now this is where I start to have a little problem with the way you have editorialized the story. Marriot files its answer in response to her allegations. In Connecticut, it appears that in a defendant’s answer, defendant is required to plead “special defenses.” These are much like what we have in Tennessee, “affirmative defenses.” Basically, these are statements that say, even assuming what she said is true, here is a reason why we are not liable, or at the very least, not as liable as she says. For instance, defendant in a car accident saying, yes it is true that I was driving too fast when I hit her, but she ran a red light. Simply put, the plaintiff has some level of responsibility. (bear with me, if you are now rolling your eyes). If these defenses are not alleged, they are waived and can’t be used later. In this instance, Marriott alleged one defense, this wasn’t our fault, it was some other guys conscious, calculated decision, you can’t “blame us for the terrorist attack.” While the facts on which that defense is based are obvious, others aren’t immediately known.

    After a plaintiff files a complaint, a defendant must typically answer within 30 – 20 days depending on the court. Because of the limited amount of time, a defendant will typically plead any and all affirmative defenses that are plausible, so that they are not waived and wait until discovery to see if there are facts to support that defense. This is likely where the defense, the victim also could have done things to make this not happen or to make it not as bad, more than likely comes into play.

    I don’t care how evil a corporation is, it doesn’t have people running it that want to blame a rape victim for the rape. However, much like the readers of your blog or the Nashville Scene, Marriott does not have all the facts until they get into discovery. In discovery, we may find out that the Marriott was negligent as hell. Not wanting to revictimize anyone, but, it’s also possible that we find out that there truly are facts that the plaintiff was partially at fault or even “should” have done something different. We have seen instances of this in the recent past.

    The point is, what you claim is revictimizing is only an attorney’s procedural defense of his client. Marriott’s lawyers put that statement in because it’s a possible defense against a person that has brought a lawsuit against the company for presumably a very large amount of money for an action that’s blame ultimately rests on a person in prison. Does it sound cold, yes. Is it actually, well, if it is, the proper blame lies with your legal system. Go look at about every complaint filed in the U.S., and you will undoubtedly see similar defenses raised, depending on the matter