Woman Sues Hilton Hotel Chain Over `Nightmare' Downtown Stay

Los Angeles, California, USA downtown cityscape at sunny day

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A visiting businesswoman from Maryland who says she spent extra to stay at a downtown Los Angeles Hilton hotel in 2021 hoping to be safer is suing the hotel chain, alleging her life was "drastically changed" by the overnight intrusion into the establishment by a woman who began screaming and setting fires.

Michele LeNoir's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges premises liability, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. LeNoir seeks unspecified damages.

A Hilton representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

LeNoir, 54, of Hyattsville, Maryland, a Washington D.C. suburb, checked into a room at the Hilton Checkers Los Angeles on Grand Avenue last Oct. 26 while on a business trip, the suit states. She was nervous about being in downtown Los Angeles because she was aware of an increase in homeless people and crime in the area, the suit states.

"Due to her concerns, (LeNoir) decided to pay a bit more and book the room at the Hilton Checkers based on the fact that Hilton is a well-known name brand which she thought would be reliable and safe," the suit states. "Unfortunately, she could not have been more wrong."

Lenoir's stay "turned into a nightmare," according to the suit, which states she was awakened around 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 28 by a fire alarm and instructions for guests to evacuate.

"When (LeNoir) opened her door to try to leave her room as instructed, she immediately saw an unknown woman screaming in the halls of the hotel," according to the suit, which further states that the woman was approaching the plaintiff when a security guard told LeNoir to close her door.

LeNoir heard a loud noise sounding like a struggle and later found out that a friend staying with her was involved, the suit states.

"Plaintiff had no idea who the woman was or how she had gained access to the hotel," according to the complaint, which also states that the woman had started multiple fires in an adjoining room, endangering everyone at the hotel.

LeNoir left her room and ran down a stairway to the lobby, where the front door was open, the suit states.

"The hotel employee at the front desk was behind the counter on the phone and seemed terrified," the suit states.

LeNoir later found out that the fire alarm could not be heard in the upper levels of the hotel, so those guests did not know what was unfolding, the suit states. The Los Angeles Fire Department report stated that the fire could have spread throughout the building, according to the suit.

Police and firefighters arrived "after what seemed like an eternity" and LeNoir did her best to tell them what occurred while "still in a state of shock," the suit states.

Hotel security and the general manager told LeNoir that hotel policy was to leave the front door unlocked and she also found out that the security guards were unarmed, according to her suit.

"Following the incident, (LeNoir) sat in the hotel lobby for hours, unable to return to her room because of the live arson investigation," the suit states.

LeNoir and her friend were given another room at about 4:30 a.m. and they insisted that a security guard stay outside their door, the suit states.

"(LeNoir) and her friend stayed together the remaining few hours until their car arrived to take them to the airport because they were too terrified to be separated," the suit states.

LeNoir regularly travels for business reasons and her life has been "drastically changed" by the incident, which has "destroyed her sense of security and affected her well-being," including her ability to sleep and work, according to the suit.

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