Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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A Florida woman is suing the owners of Adams Morgan’s Line hotel for a total of $3 million after she says she fell down a staircase and broke her hip inside the hotel last August. 

The lawsuit centers around the oft-photographed stairways one sees immediately upon entering the hotel. According to the lawsuit, the woman fell when the handrails ended just before the last few steps of the stairs. 

She’s asking for $1.5 million from both Adams Morgan Hotel Owner, LLC and Sydell Group, LLC, another one of its owners, to cover damages. The lawsuit says the hotel and Sydell Group, LLC knowingly and recklessly failed to provide a safe environment for guests.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff, Florida resident Louise Welling, was attending a wedding at the hotel on Aug. 11, 2018. While the cocktail reception was originally scheduled for the hotel’s rooftop, it was relocated to the ground floor due to bad weather. 

Welling was on the way to the new location of the cocktail reception along with her husband and a family member in a wheelchair. The three of them took an elevator down to the ground floor, but then a staff member stopped them as they were walking through the main reception area toward the cocktail reception, according to the lawsuit. It says Welling and her husband were told to take the elevator back up to the main level, go around to the front of the hotel, and go down a stairwell to the ground floor reception area. The Wellings’ relative in the wheelchair was allowed to continue on to the cocktail reception. 

After exiting the elevator on the upper floor, Welling was walking down the stairwell back to the floor she was on earlier when she fell, breaking her hip and femur. The fall resulted in a hip replacement, the suit says, and bruising. 

Welling says that while she held onto the railing as long as she could, the handrail ended before the final three steps of the stairs, causing the fall. 

According to the lawsuit, not only did the missing handrail present a hazardous condition for guests, but Sydell and the hotel itself were aware that the stairways were not safe. 

“Sydell as an experienced hotel manager knows or should have known about safety conditions on stairways concerning handrails. Sydell owed a duty of care to Ms. Welling, including but not limited to a duty to warn,” the lawsuit says. 

It goes on to call the failure to provide the handrails “willful, wanton and reckless disregard for the health and safety of Ms. Welling.”

Since the fall, Welling has had balance issues, chronic pain, anxiety issues, concerns about her ability to enjoy life, and isolation from friends and family, the lawsuit says. She can no longer hike, swim, travel, or walk without additional support, it says. 

The hotel and Sydell Group, LLC declined to comment on the lawsuit when reached. Welling’s lawyer was unable to return calls by time of publication. 

This isn’t the first time the Line hotel has been embroiled in a lawsuit. In 2017, a subcontracting company filed a lawsuit against the hotel for alleging that millions in back-pay was due.