Spindletop Sued for Gross Negligence After Toddler's Foot Is Caught In Rotating Floor

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Set at the very top of the Hyatt Regency Houston hotel downtown, Spindletop is a popular destination for date nights and special occasions. The rotating floors in the restaurant spin guests slowly around for impeccable views of the city skyline, making Spindletop a draw since it first opened in 1972. But those rotating floors ended up creating a nightmarish scenario for one couple, who allege in a lawsuit that their 4-year-old's foot became lodged between two rotating platforms, causing serious injuries.

The couple, Dehong Shen and Min Zhang, filed a lawsuit against Spindletop and its parent company, the Hyatt corporation, on April 17. In the filing, Shen and Zhang accuse the restaurant of gross negligence for failing to prevent the injury to their child and for failing to provide sufficient assistance to the family when the toddler's leg became stuck.

Reading the couple's account of the night's events in the court filing is chilling, even if you don't have children. According to the suit, the 4-year-old, Erin Shen, wandered off from her parents briefly after a waiter walked by with birthday cake. "Shortly thereafter," the lawsuit states, "Erin cried out that her foot was stuck."

"Plaintiffs discovered that her right foot was caught in a gap between the rotating floor and the window. Erin stood...facing the opposite direction as the restaurant rotated forward. She became pale and panicked as she attempted to free herself, crying out that her foot hurt."

Her parents rushed over to free the toddler, but couldn't. And the restaurant floor continued its slow rotation as her foot became trapped even further.

"Plantiffs asked a restaurant employee to immediately stop the rotation of the floor, but the rotation never stopped," the lawsuit alleges. More worryingly, a giant pole in the floor -- part of a handrail -- was headed Erin's way. "After approximately a minute, Erin's parents were able to pull her foot out of her shoe and squeeze it out of the gap in the floor just seconds before the pole contacted her body."

According to the suit, her foot was mangled, with several deep lacerations. Managers came over to discern what had happened, one of them bringing ice for Erin's foot. But they were accompanied by an armed guard, who soon escorted Erin and her parents out of the restaurant. "The armed security guard watched Plaintiffs closely without offering any assistance, thereby adding additional emotional distress to the situation," the suit reads.

Shen and Zhang are suing for damages that include emergency room expenses, future surgeries to "restore the normal appearance of Erin's foot" and prescription drugs as well as "likely permanent disfigurement" of the child's foot. She was involved in dance classes prior to the incident.

They allege in the lawsuit that Hyatt and Spindletop failed to use reasonable care to make the restaurant safe, primarily by failing to "remedy and warn of a serious safety hazard that was especially dangerous to small children."

A spokesperson for the Hyatt Regency Houston responded to questions about the lawsuit by saying, "We are unable to comment on matters involving active litigation."



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Spindletop At the Hyatt Regency

1200 Louisiana, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Kittyryan1984
Kittyryan1984

After reading even more of these posts, it is obvius that many have assumed that this happened because they think that little girl was just left to run around the restaurant. Her parents most likely did not just let her go to do as she pleased or were not watching her. Most kids have had even small amounts of time, even seconds, where they were not observed by parents. A few seconds is all it takes for a young one to do an impulsive act, but that in itself does not mean that the parents are neglectful. Some of the other posts had good points, such as; what if it were someone wearing a long peice of clothing that gets caught, or who is looking for their contact lenses, or maybe something they dropped on the floor. There are many possibilities of even adults getting trapped in a gap like that somehow.  Accidents do happen, we don't live in a perfect world. If I were the owner/manager of that restaurant, I would've had the common sense to get something like that covered as soon as it was discovered, this would mean even before opening day. Why wasn't it covered up ? That is the question. If it could have been, then why wasn't it secured long before ? Was it not noticed by anyone in management before the accident, or did they think it was too expensive to cover, or maybe they just didn't care enough ?

Kittyryan1984
Kittyryan1984

I meant the last reply to Bradg, about his attitude.

Kittyryan1984
Kittyryan1984

What if it were an adult with a small foot that got caught in that gap ? What excuse would the restaurant mananagment make then, that no one should stumble by accident ? It is the restaurant's fault for allowing an opening such as that. There are ways to cover it so it will not be a hazard for anyone, instead of blaming the victims !

stevrobin100
stevrobin100

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BLowell
BLowell

Seems like the restaurant might have considered installing a cheap and simple plexiglass barrier between building and floor to prevent feet or shoe straps/laces from being caught like this.One minor step more: a flexy rubber or synthetic fiber-hair seal atop that plexiglass to prevent dresses or ties (the tie-wearing guy who's searching for his contact or dropped credit card) from being caught. This is forseeable and would have cost what, $2500?

There's no doubt even a Texas court will rule in the parents favor. Not even a contest here, legally speaking.

OldPete
OldPete

 C'mon, wouldn't it be a lot easier to skip all that work, and just blame the victim when it happens again? Or at least blame the victim's parents?

Bradg
Bradg

We (successfully) raised four kids and, bottom line people, kids don't belong wandering around in a freaking restaurant.  Ever.  It's not the same thing as letting them go outside and play and that comparison is asinine.  Restaurants are not playgrounds.  There are too many ways in which your kids can 1)get hurt and 2)annoy the shit out of every adult in the room.  It's your responsibility to make sure your kids stay in their seats and/or by your side (and QUIET, for the love of God!) while you're in the restaurant and if you let them roam around, then you can take the lumps when they get hurt.  Sorry, but this is just common sense.  And if you parents who ARE letting your snot-gobblers run around and are being defensive in the comments section - here's a news flash:  YOU'RE WRONG!  Get over it.

Kittyryan1984
Kittyryan1984

Joie, are your children and you so perfect ? What if it were you who were trapped in that gap because of some accident or misjudgement ? It could be your tie or your hand or another adult with a small foot that tripped or stumbled into it. Can't you realize that an establishment has the ability to cover a gap like that so that nothing happens to anyone, and they should have already known that they should have had it secured ? Most people do not just let their children run loose, but things still can happen. Get real, lower the level of your nose.

GMaupissant
GMaupissant

Brad, I congratulate you for raising four kids, successfully! It's a true mark of achievement that they all remained seated beside you, silently, at all times during nice meals out. I suspect they harbor fond and long-lasting memories of your dining time together. 

That said, your argument is pure baloney. Baloney in good company, sure. But sad baloney nonetheless. Here's why:

You make the same tired, unfounded assumptions: the kid was a no-good, wandering vagrant whose noisy, obnoxious behaviour was the bane of other diners. A snotty-nosed noise-maker running rampant and wholly unattended by the parents. A tiny Dickensian urchin who had it coming.

But, hey, let's grant your assumptions. The kid was a spoiled brat who ran around and annoyed other diners, while the parents blithely sipped Champagne and smoked, casting only an occasional glance her way. 

But then suddenly she was caught between the revolving floor and the stable building, her foot mangled to some degree, with worse outcomes had she not been freed in time. That strikes you as what? Normal? Just? Right? What exactly are you saying my good fellow?

Bradg
Bradg

 Thank you for that tome, Charles Dickens.  But, the fact remains that the child was allowed to wander off.  Period.  End of discussion.  Had the child remained with the parents, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

DinkinsNY
DinkinsNY

Never considered using a cliche and old wives tale as the basis of my argument, but they say that CPAs are highly creative these days, so who knows.....

DinkinsNY
DinkinsNY

Rather silly if you think a restaurant providing a reasonably safe environment is the same thing as the restaurant being a babysitter.

Btw: If a restaurant had that venomous viper you mention slithering about, and it bit someone, well sorry, the restaurant is going to be legally liable.

CPAinHouston
CPAinHouston

The thing is, everyone seems to think this is black or white...it's the parents' fault...no, no, it's the restaurant's fault. But, hey, how about this? It's a culmination of negligence on BOTH their parts! The parents should have watched their kid better. The restaurant should have warned them about the potential hazard or acted better or with more urgency. But, I'm not buying the BS about the parents can expect the restaurant to provide a "safe environment". The restaurant is NOT your babysitter! You have the responsibility to watch your child, regardless how curious he or she may be. Would you let your curious child stick his hand in a poisonous viper's pit just for the experience? Of course not! Curiosity is one thing, but you also need to be teaching your children respect...and crashing someone else's birthday bash is not being respectful of that family!

CPAinHouston
CPAinHouston

 Yeah, well, curiosity killed the cat...and, apparently, it almost killed the kid. So, your argument sucks!

GMaupissant
GMaupissant

Bradg: What does it mean to 'remain' with your child? Do we have to hold hands? Does he have to sit before me? Could we maybe be a few yards apart? Could we be across the room at 25 yards apart from each other? What if I'm watching him? Are we apart? Have I allowed him to 'wander off'? Have I transgressed?

I don't think so. Children naturally have curiosity. You may not. And you might like to mold your kids not to be curious as well. Fine. But please forgive us who would like our kids to be somewhat curious about the world and assert some independence sometimes in what should be a relatively safe place. Let us watch and enjoy these fleeting moments without saying we're bad parents.

The thing that's unnatural, other than you keeping your kids at arms length, afraid of what might happen, or who you might offend...is a building that grabs them for a joy ride. And you can't seem to get that THAT is the abnormality here.

Joie
Joie

Actually, it was not the child that was a no good vagrant. It's the parents. They let their child wander around a restaurant unattended and now want to sue the bejeezus out of sai drestaurant.

Kittyryan1984
Kittyryan1984

Joie, read my reply to Bradg, it encludes you and the others here too who agree with you and Bradg.

FluerieJenkins
FluerieJenkins

The parents would be negligent NOT to sue in this case. Their action will get the problem resolved, so it won't happen to others. No parent should have to add to his worry list: my child might be eaten by a building during din-din.

Matthew
Matthew

if the kid was snatched after wandering off to admire the borthday cake, would the restaurant be responsible then as well?

Kittyryan1984
Kittyryan1984

  No, the restaurant would not be responsible then, but it is here because that gap was in the restaurant and it could have been covered before anything happened to any of their patrons. Your illustration of the snatched kid does not work in this case.

DenisonU
DenisonU

Matthew, the restaurant would be responsible if the kid were snatched from a baby-sitting service provided by the hotel/restaurant. (That's a closer parallel for you to ponder).

KentMcClaren
KentMcClaren

Right. If you enter a restaurant, or any place of business, there is an implicit contract that the place is reasonably safe. By reasonably, I mean that the ceiling won't collapse, the walls won't fall on you, or you won't fall through the floor. And that the building won't catch your clothing and take you for a ride. 

In the hypothetical case above, children would be assumed to be protected, safe from kidnappers, and the restaurant would obviously be liable if children vanished while in their care.That's basic. Parents aren't expected to be responsible if their child is injured due to a defective product, or a business' negligence to provide a reasonably safe environment.

ChumleyE
ChumleyE

For chrissakes, the kid walked a little ways across the dining room to look at a birthday spectacle while her parents were dining a few meters away; it's not like the parents let the four-year-old take the room key and head down to the pool alone. Perspective please.

CPAinHouston
CPAinHouston

Here's a perspective for ya...children have been abducted from within a few feet of their parents. The parents look away for a few seconds and the child is taken. How's that perspective workin' out for ya? Still think it's okay to let your FOUR YEAR OLD child wander a "few meters" away in a public place? If so, you're not only an idiot, but you're completely delusional as well.

Heliocentric
Heliocentric

 Exactly! It means that as hard as you try you can't always protect your kids. So lighten up with the overprotective mother hen instincts. And deal with a real problem that is easily solvable, like a crevice that sucks in a kids foot. That seems more reasonable that toting your kid in a kangaroo pouch.

Joie
Joie

Honesty, "a few meters away" is much too far away.

Bighatter
Bighatter

DrAmberPinkoff's absurdity is a near perfect reflection of your own, Joie. 

Joie
Joie

You are being absurd. But yeah, if you want to run the risk of losing your child's toes, much less your child, go ahread and let your child out of your sight.

DrAmberPinkoff
DrAmberPinkoff

Even 19 inches is too far away! Carry your four year olds. And sleep with them. And ride with them on the back of your bike. Don't let them climb trees. Or play near water. Or fool around in your kitchen.Keep them close at ALL times. Remember the 18-Inch Rule. And they'll never be caught in a revolving building.

dani
dani

my DOG is never out of my site - give me a f'n break parents

Stusnow1
Stusnow1

Restaurant Management 101: Call 911 and get a paramedic immediately. If the parents say that they do not want one then ask them what they DO want. I would have called the medics, anyway. The victim's foot was out of the trap and the medics would have first aid for a threatening injury. Bottom line is that the restaurant has the responsibility to operate a safe environment but the parents share some responsibility, too. The Hyatt will settle out of court and you can bet that when The "Spindletop" reopens that little problem will have vanished.

PO'd Citizen
PO'd Citizen

It's not the fact on whether or not the parents were supervising the child, it's the fact that the restaurant failed to provide proper care, and instead of stopping the rotation, simply kept it going, possibly killing the child, and AFTERWARDS, a manager comes with ice, which is hardly sufficient due to the injuries. And on top of it all, the managers then boot the whole family out! Bigots need to stop commenting, they filed under "failing to prevent the injury to their child and for failing to provide sufficient assistance to the family when the toddler's leg became stuck." It's not how they watched their child, it's the fact that the restaurant failed to help. If you seriously don't allow your child to wander a bit, you're being way too overprotective.

Joie
Joie

Parents need to know where their kids are at all times. That's their job. The fact that there is this huge moving thing in the place they took their child to should have automatically made them more vigilant. Moving thing = danger, especially for a little person w/ small feet. Y'know, the perfect size for getting caught in moving mechanisms.

While I agree that the restaurant staff should have stopped the rotating thingamajig as soon as they could, I still think the parents should have made sure that their child was by their side at all times. Not wandering around, close to or right by the rotating floor.

Vonfremd
Vonfremd

The parents DID know where their daughter was; she was in the restaurant with them.They could have been watching her for all you know.

Maybe they expected the hotel to have some rudimentary precautions against this happening. What if it were a young adult or elderly lady with very tiny feet? Or a woman in a dress that got caught? Would you so automatically rush to blame the victims, and not the venue?

Joie
Joie

The basic responsibility of the restaurant was to know how to turn off the spinning conntraption and do it immediately when they were informed of the incident.

If the parents did know  where the kid was, then her foot would never have been caught in the spinning thing.  If they were watching her, none of this would have happened.

Bighatter
Bighatter

Joie asks once more: "How can it not be the parent's fault that this happened when first off - their child is their responsibility?".

Since you haven't seemed to read the other posts where you are not involved (I admit they are few), I will cut and paste from KentMcClaren below to help you understand:"Parents aren't expected to be responsible if their child is injured due to a defective product, or a business' negligence to provide a reasonably safe environment."

There you go Joie. Parental liability is not an absolute.

Joie
Joie

LOL at confused and overprotective. How can it not be the parent's fault that this happened when first off - their child is their responsibility. That means they are accountable for his or her safety until said child reaches age of majority.

The fact that they let their child "wander around" is negligence. Simply put, if you are a parent with a child in a public place, keep an eye on your children and do not let them wander off.  

ChumleyE
ChumleyE

 So it's not enough to keep an eye on them.

But a backpack or leash is too much.

And everywhere is a place of danger. Including nice restaurants.

Gotcha. And glad I'm not your kid. You seem confused AND overprotective.

Joie
Joie

Anywhere you take a child is "potentially dangerous" - not only because of spinning contraptions but the risk of falling, being abducted, getting into a fight with other similarly sized people and the like.

Keeping an eye on them is not enough - they are children (in this case, a 4 year old). Would you let your 4 year old cross the street alone? Or would you let your 4 year old go potty by themselves? I doubt it.

The point I am making and that you are missing is that - a child (or children) is the responsibility of their parents. Simple basic truth. If you let your child wander, how is that taking responsibility for them?

A backpack? No, not really. Those are for infants. My point is - parents need to watch their children, know where they are, and where they are going and if they are in any potential danger (I consider the spinning contraption potential danger).  Its not the public's responsibility (in this case, restaurant management) to watch them and keep them safe for you.

PetersenH
PetersenH

Guess you and I would differ if you describe a nice restaurant in an internationally known hotel overlooking Houston as a "potentially dangerous public place".

And what do you mean that parents 'need to be responsible for their children'? Isn't keeping an eye on them and knowing where they are being responsible? Do they have to wear their children in backpacks to meet your standard?

Basic, means basic. Instead of a restaurant stocking anti-venom, they should be expected to not have venomous snakes for instance. Or instead of having a typhus treatment pack, they should install sneeze guards. Got that? Basic.

Joie
Joie

What is ridiculous about parents being responsible for their children, especially in potentially dangerous public places?

In the entire time that the spinning thing has been spinning, the child was the first to get trapped. Does that not tell you something?

Also, do you know what the word "basic" means?

PetersenH
PetersenH

Joie, that's just ridiculous. Or call me crazy for suspecting that the restaurant has a more basic responsibility than having a readily accessible kill switch; namely, measures to prevent people and things from getting caught in the 'spinning thing' in the first place. 

Texmex01
Texmex01

because as stated multiple times above, the place has been in business for 40 years without an incident, but all it takes is one kid being ignored by her parents to tarnish a great place....

Dolphin22
Dolphin22

Yes CPA, not only bad people out there, but bad microbes too, that will routinely inflict grievous harm to your child. My son is now 12 and has happily occupied a germ-free bubble that we designed and built in our home. He is safe from everything the world can throw at him, I am happy to say!

CPAinHouston
CPAinHouston

 I'm sorry, but normal, reasonable care of a 4-year old doesn't allow the child to wander off however briefly it may be. Hasn't anyone heard? There are bad people out there! People who might grab your 4-year old and be out the door before you even have a chance to jump out of your comfortable seat! Normal, reasonable care can only be defined by the circumstances involved. And in this circumstance, allowing a 4-year old to "wander off" in a restaurant is clearly NOT normal NOR reasonable care! God, no wonder crime rates are so high. Idiot parents think their children are invincible!

AnselmHastings
AnselmHastings

Parents bear absolute responsibility for their children.Parents have absolute power to determine when and how their children are hurt.Parents have absolute power to prevent their child's injury.If a child has an accident and is injured, it is the fault of the parent for not preventing that injury.And therefore the parent is behaving with neglect toward his child.A neglectful parent should be charged with a crime.Criminals belong in jail.

That's your line of logic...it is a little embarrassing, gotta admit.

Joie
Joie

Idiotic? Try again, champ.

The basic premise here is a child is the responsibility of its parents. That means - they keep an eye on him, make sure he doesnt get harmed until he is able to do that for himself.

In this case, the parents let the child (their responsibility) wander about a restaurant (with omg a spinning contraption).  Child gets hurt, but IT ISNT THEIR RESPONSIBILITY?  What world do you live in that other people/establishments are responsible for parental neglect?

Try and think that one over a bit more before you get embarassed again.

KentMcClaren
KentMcClaren

Sorry, that's idiotic reasoning Joie. You're going to define reasonable parental care by whether a child "gets into an accident" and is injured? Might want to think that one through a bit more before being embarrassed. 

Joie
Joie

Care is NOT normal and reasonable if their child (read: their responsibility until he/she reaches age of majority) gets into an accident.

Vonfremd
Vonfremd

That's a foolish argument, the fact that it hasn't happened in 40 years. In fact, that would probably add weight to the plaintiff's argument: how could a parent foresee something like this happening, in a place with a spotless 40 year history?

The parents were simply exercising normal, reasonable care of their child. In no way could they have anticipated this happening. Given that it's a nice hotel with no history of accidents like this, it's simply not a reasonable parental concern, period.

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