A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Elisa Lam

Hotel Vacancy. Just Don’t Drink the Water.

By Jennifer Williams

The Cecil Hotel, which is located near Skid Row in Los Angeles, California, is described on its website as an “intimate 600-room boutique hotel” in the “beautiful vintage European-style.”

But the reviews create an entirely different image: dirty, bugs, shared bathrooms, soiled sheets, and (my personal favorite), there’s a “tranny in the lobby.”

If that’s not discouragement enough, a look into the hotel’s history paints an even bleaker picture.

In 1962, a 27-year-old guest of the hotel killed both herself and the pedestrian she landed on when she jumped from a window.  In 1964, a woman was found strangled in her room. Two serial killers, Richard Ramirez, aka the “Night Stalker,” and Jack Unterweger, are said to have been return guests there in the 1980s.

And on February 19, a maintenance worker, responding to complaints made by hotel guests about the water pressure, found the body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam in a water tank.

Ms. Lam was last seen at the hotel on January 31, so it’s possible that Ms. Lam was floating in the hotel’s water tank for over two weeks.  In any case, guests are reporting that they thought something was wrong during this period: the water would appear black as it came out of hotel faucets.  And, oh yes, it tasted “funny.”

The hotel is still open but is providing guests with bottled water and advising them that the tap water is to be used to flush the toilet only. Current guests are required to sign an agreement absolving the hotel from liability if they become ill. (You are staying at the hotel “at your own risk and peril,” the waiver says.). And guests who’d booked a room and want to cancel because of the water situation can’t get a refund.

Will the waiver hold up to legal scrutiny? Was the Cecil negligent? LASIS investigates.

(more…)

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