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April 21, 2023

Woman assaulted in Center City sues nearby Marriott hotels for failure to keep area safe

Amelia Corse claims the hotel owners were negligent in maintaining safety outside of their buildings on Chestnut Street, where she was assaulted in February

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Lawsuit Center City Assault Street View/Google

The 33-year-old woman who was beaten unconscious in Center City in February has filed a lawsuit against W Philadelphia and Element Hotel, alleging that they failed to maintain a safe premises and contributed to her assault outside of the buildings.

The woman who was beaten by eight people in Center City earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against the two Marriott-branded hotels she was walking past when she was ambushed, alleging that the hotel owner was negligent in ensuring a safe premises and contributed to her assault. 

The assault occurred at around 7:15 p.m. on Feb. 23, as 33-year-old Amelia Corse was walking past a dimly lit sidewalk next to W Philadelphia Hotel and Element Hotel at 15th and Chestnut streets in Center City. She was wearing headphones when she heard several individuals yelling at her. At the time, the lawsuit, filed on Thursday, claims that there were various employees working at the side-by-side hotels that should have been aware of a group of eight people loitering outside.

According to police, the eight individuals ambushed Corse and knocked her to the ground from behind. The suspects then punched and stomped Corse until she was unconscious, authorities said. The group left once Corse was unconscious, though one or two of the minors allegedly returned to retrieve a bike that was left near Corse's body, according to the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit claims that the staff at W Philadelphia Hotel and Element Hotel did not intervene in the attack, the police were not called and nobody attempted to help deescalate the situation. When Corse regained consciousness, a bystander approached her and she was transported to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with injuries to her head, skull and upper extremities. 

She sustained multiple physical and psychological injuries during the altercation and is continuing to recover, according to officials from Morgan & Morgan, the law firm that filed the suit on Corse's behalf. 

In addition to Marriott's W Philadelphia Hotel and Element Hotel, the lawsuit names Chestlen Development, the Conshohocken-based developer that owns the dual-hotel property. The 52-page legal complaint also names the parents of the seven minors who have been arrested in connection with the attack. The suspects themselves, all of whom are under 18, are identified only by their initials. 

"Because of the alleged recklessness and negligence of the W Philadelphia Hotel, the Element Hotel and Chestlen Development, Ms. Corse, simply while walking down the street in her own city, experienced a traumatic incident that will impact her for the rest of her life," Morgan & Morgan attorneys John Morgan, Clancy Boylan and Joseph Swist said in an emailed statement. "Attacks like these have been prevalent within Philadelphia for some time now, and it's time that businesses step up and do their due diligence to protect community members from violence on their properties." 

The lawsuit claims that Chestlen and Marriott are responsible for maintaining the safety and security of the sidewalks surrounding its buildings, and that the area is frequented by loiterers and "unruly individuals with violent propensities." The lawsuit details that for an extended amount of time before Corse's assault, "dangerous areas" existed around the properties because of poor lighting, lax security and no surveillance measures for the sidewalk directly outside of the hotel. 

Those conditions created a foreseeable risk of violence similar to what Corse experienced, which could have been prevented if Chestlen and Marriott implemented additional security measures, the lawsuit said. In the six months prior to Feb. 23, there were 38 violent crimes reported at or near the property, and more than 200 assaults occurred in the surrounding area in 2022, the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit accuses Chestlen and Marriott of not putting in place or enforcing rules and regulations aimed at dealing with violent crimes on its property, including the sidewalks surrounding the hotel. 

Corse's complaint also accuses the parents of the suspects of failing to supervise their children and failing to teach their children not to engage in violent behavior. The minors named in the lawsuit were accused of intentionally causing harm. 

Corse is seeking $50,000 in compensatory damages from the defendants, according to the lawsuit. 

Marriott Hotels, which owns W Philadelphia and the Element Hotel on Chestnut Street, declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The assault was captured on surveillance footage and was released by police on March 7. Three days later, seven of the eight juveniles had been identified and taken into police custody. An eighth suspect, who was seen in the surveillance video, was not named in the lawsuit and has not yet been arrested.