Premises liability: Death in hotel water tank ruled accidental

Premises liability: Death in hotel water tank ruled accidental

After a horrific discovery in the water tank of a Los Angeles hotel earlier this year, speculation grew that murder or foul play was involved. Recently, however, medical examiners ruled that the 21-year-old woman whose body was found in a water tank died by accidental drowning, not homicide. The discovery of the woman's body prompted Health Department and police investigations as well as a premises liability lawsuit by hotel guests.

The woman's body had been found inside a water tank on the roof after guests complained about water pressure at the hotel. Her body had been in the tank for as long a 19 days, prompting the Los Angeles Health Department to investigate. While there was no harmful bacteria found in the tank, the tank and pipes had to be flushed and sanitized.

Meanwhile, police investigated the woman's death. Security footage had shown the woman walking into an elevator and peering out of the door as if she were looking for someone. The investigation found that the woman's death was accidental, however.

Some guests said that water pressure at the hotel fell to a trickle and the tap water tasted funny. Two guests filed a class-action lawsuit against the hotel. The suit claims the hotel had an obligation to provide appropriate water for its guests, and that it failed to do so. The water in the tank was contaminated and not fit for washing or drinking, the lawsuit claims.

Source: CNN, "Woman's water tank death ruled accidental," Sonya Hamasaki, June 20, 2013

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