Hilton Newspaper Lawsuit Brings National Attention to Sacramento’s Arnold Law Firm

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Sacramento trial lawyer Kirk Wolden tells the New York Times that Hilton Hotels’ practice of charging for newspapers exemplifies the way companies take advantage of individuals.

Sacramento, California, trial lawyer, trial attorney, unfair business practices, consumer protection, Hilton Hotels, personal injury, wrongful death, class-action, lawsuit

Kirk Wolden

It exemplifies the types of advantages that, unfortunately, we see companies taking of you and I and everyone else every day.

Cliff Carter and Kirk Wolden of the Arnold Law Firm of Sacramento have garnered national attention for their efforts to obtain relief for a California man and other individuals who have been charged by Hilton Hotels for newspapers they claim they did not request.

The Sacramento law firm filed the lawsuit against the “Hilton Family of Hotels,” including Hilton, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites by Hilton, on July 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. (No. 11-CV-03677).

The complaint has been brought on behalf of Rodney Harmon and claims he was charged 75 cents for a USA Today that he did not request or read when he stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport. The suit also is being brought on behalf of other Hilton guests throughout California and the U.S. who have “unwittingly purchased newspapers they reasonably believed and understood to be without charge.”

The class-action lawsuit has been reported on by National Public Radio, The Huffington Post and the New York Times, as well as several other media outlets throughout the country.

Sacramento attorney Kirk Wolden, who is a part of The Arnold Law Firm’s Mass Torts/Class Action Department in addition to representing plaintiffs in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, told the New York Times that “there is more at stake than 75 cents.”

“It exemplifies the types of advantages that, unfortunately, we see companies taking of you and I and everyone else every day,” Wolden told the newspaper. “We as individuals are expected to make an honest dollar.”

According to the complaint, Mr. Harmon received his room card in a paper holder when he checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport on the night of March 28, 2011.

He looked at the paper holder when it was handed to him, and again when he opened it to get his card, but he did not recall being alerted to or otherwise noticing any language on the paper holder relating to a newspaper, according to the complaint.

In the morning, a hotel invoice was slipped under his door, containing itemized charges, but the word “newspaper” did not appear on the invoice, and there was “absolutely no mention of any charge relating to a newspaper," the complaint states.

Mr. Harmon then noticed a USA Today on the hotel floor outside his room when he left to check out, the complaint says, adding that he didn’t request the newspaper, assumed it had been placed there by hotel staff on a complimentary basis and did not read or make any use of the newspaper.

Several days later, Mr. Harmon discovered that “he had supposedly requested the newspaper” and been charged 75 cents for it, the complaint states.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Harmon’s experience resulted from Hilton’s “standard operating practice” of supplying hotel guests with newspapers – without their request – in a manner that creates “a reasonable assumption and expectation” that they were not being charged for it.

The complaint states that Hilton charges 75 cents for each newspaper by placing the charge “inconspicuously” in the paper room card holder in “extremely small font which is difficult to notice or read” and placed inside the holder opposite from the card.

The language “purports to confirm” that the guest is requesting the newspaper at a charge of 75 cents, and it advises guests that they can “unrequest” the newspaper by calling the front desk, according to the complaint.

Instead of listing the 75-cent charge on the hotel bill, a “bill credit” is listed only for those who affirmatively opt out of the newspaper, which effectively prevents those being billed for the newspaper from discovering the charge, the complaint says.

Additionally, the complaint states, based on information and belief, many if not the vast majority of these newspapers go unread by guests, which constitutes “an offensive waste of precious resources and energy.”

The class-action lawsuit alleges unfair business practices, violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and unjust enrichment. It seeks both monetary and injunctive relief.

About The Arnold Law Firm
The Arnold Law Firm was founded in Sacramento, California, in 1975 by Clayeo C. Arnold. The firm’s personal injury trial attorneys are dedicated to the aggressive representation of people injured by the negligent actions of others. The firm’s experienced trial attorneys have successfully advocated for hundreds of people throughout the United States injured in automobile, trucking, and construction equipment accidents; on construction sites and work sites; by dangerous conditions of public and private property; by defective products; through the malpractice of healthcare professionals and legal professionals; and through the use of unsafe drugs or medical devices. For help with a personal injury case, contact the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 924-3100 or use the firm’s online form.

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