Cruz-Alvarez and Hayes Explain Dismissal of Out-of-State Injury Claim Against Hotel Chain

Shook attorneys Frank Cruz-Alvarez and Ashley Hayes have written an article on the history and dismissal of a cause of action claim against an international hospitality company. In “Fidrych v. Marriott International: Fourth Circuit Rejects Jurisdiction Over Claim for Out-of-State Injury,” published in the Washington Legal Foundation’s WLF Legal Pulse, Cruz-Alvarez and Hayes explain the Fourth Circuit’s affirmation of a trial court’s dismissal of a cause of action against the defendant. 

The plaintiff and his wife in Fidrych v. Marriott International, Inc., sued Marriott International for injuries to his hand from a shattered glass shower door, sustained while staying at The Boscolo Milano in Milan, Italy, a hotel affiliated with Marriott, but not owned or operated by the hotel chain. The injuries included a severed tendon in his thumb which required two surgeries. The plaintiffs, residents of South Carolina, brought a personal injury action against Marriott in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Marriott, arguing that the company is neither a resident of nor incorporated in South Carolina, moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that because Marriott operated hotels within South Carolina, its website provided an option in its drop-down menu for visitors to select “South Carolina,” and Marriott obtained a Certificate of Authority to conduct business in the state of South Carolina, that Marriot had personal jurisdiction. The district court disagreed, granting Marriott’s motion to dismiss, which was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit. 

“Plaintiffs attempting to sue within a forum need more than just a hollow paper trail and business licenses to obtain jurisdiction,” Cruz-Alvarez and Hayes write. “Due process requires more intentional business activity within the forum, purposefully directed at its residents.”