Monday, July 22, 2013

Air India pilot sues Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront hotel over robbery, indifference

22-Jul-13 – An Air India pilot is suing the owner of the new Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront hotel on Wacker Drive, claiming someone broke into his room while he was sleeping and stole more than $500. He is also claiming hotel employees did not help him following the robbery and one employee may have been an accomplice.

Captain Pankul Mathur, who is joint general manager of operations for Air India, says on April 15 he awoke at about 10:45 p.m. to someone banging on his hotel room door. When he opened the door, he says a large African-American woman pushed her way in, found his wallet next to the bed, and took all of his cash.

Captain Pankul Mathur says he tried to call the hotel operator but the woman yanked away the cord connecting the handset to the base of the telephone.

The woman left the room and called for an elevator. Mathur says he ran into the hallway, screaming that he had been robbed. A housekeeper who was nearby, he says, calmly responded, “it’s not my job to call the police.”

The woman then allegedly told the housekeeper that Mathur had “called me for prostitution and was not paying so I am just taking his money.”

At that point, Mathur says the housekeeper told the woman that she would back her story, leading him to suspect she was an accomplice. He rode with the woman down to the lobby. Despite screaming that he had been robbed, he says there was no response from hotel employees in the lobby. Only after the woman had walked out of the hotel did two security guards follow her but only for a few steps. They returned and told Mathur that since she was no longer on the premises, they could not stop or detain her.

According to the complaint, Ben Nelson, the hotel’s chief concierge, initially refused to call police and threatened Mathur with removal from the lobby if he did not keep his voice down. When police did arrive, Mathur says the hotel refused to produce the housekeeper who spoke to the woman outside his hotel room.

The incident shows up on security video, with the woman in the hotel for no more than six minutes.

The $50,000 personal injury lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court on July 16. Mathur is suing Hospitality Properties Trust, which purchased Hotel 71 last November. The hotel re-opened on June 12 as a Wyndham.

According to the Mumbai Mirror, Air India is reviewing security at every hotel in the United States where its employees stay. A “top Air India official” flew to the U.S. to conduct the review, starting with the Wyndham in Chicago.

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