The Modesto Bee - Front desk staff at an Econo Lodge gave a man the key to a woman’s motel room before he tried to kill her in her sleep in January, according to a Colorado lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed June 5 against Econo Lodge, accuses the motel of negligence and says staff failed to keep motel guests safe.
“When somebody books a hotel, they’re entitled to the key to their room and no one else,” Matthew Haltzman, an attorney for the woman, told McClatchy News.
Choice Hotels, which owns the Econo Lodge brand, did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Nicole Gallegos, 38, and her mother, Carol Gonzales, 70, were staying at an Econo Lodge in Longmont, Colorado, about 35 miles north of Denver, on the night of Jan. 3, according to the lawsuit.
That evening, Gallegos invited her ex-boyfriend, Cody Czichos, 31, to eat pizza with her in the room, the lawsuit says. But the situation started to “deteriorate,” the lawsuit says, and Gonzales told him to leaves.
He then went to the motel lobby where he appeared “intoxicated” and was “muttering ominously threatening, expletive-laden statements,” the lawsuit says. He then requested a key card to Gallegos and Gonzales’ room, according to the lawsuit .
Staff gave him a key without checking his identification, confirming whether he was a registered guest on the motel reservation or calling the room to ask if Gonzales or Gallegos would permit him to have a key, the lawsuit says.
He went back to Gallegos and Gonzles’ room and let himself in, according to the lawsuit. He became “irate” and slapped Gonzales in the face, according to a Jan. 4 report from the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. Gonzales called the front desk and asked them to call 911, the report says.
Czichos left the room again and, after waiting a few minutes, Gonzales went down the hall to talk to front desk staff, the report says. Czichos, who was still in the hotel foyer, charged at her and hit her in the arm, the report says. Motel staff brought Gonzales into a separate room.
A short while later, Czichos again entered Gallegos and Gonzales’ motel room, where Gallegos was sleeping alone, according to the lawsuit.
She “awoke to a living nightmare” and saw him “on top of her brandishing a knife,” the lawsuit says.
Czichos said “I’ll just (expletive) kill you” and tried to slash her throat, striking her chin instead, according to another report from the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. He is accused of cutting her hand as she tried to defend herself.
He also stomped on her head, knocked out her teeth and kicked her in the ribs, the lawsuit says.
He then fled the motel, and Gonzales and a motel employee found Gallegos wrapped in a blanket “cowering on the ground and bleeding profusely,” the lawsuit says.
Czichos was charged with third-degree assault, domestic violence and attempted first-degree murder, according to a report. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Haltzman said Gallegos is still recovering from her physical injuries, but dealing with the trauma from the incident will be a “lifelong endeavor.”
“She’s disfigured and scarred,” he said. “She’s in constant psychiatric treatment as a result of this attack.”
Gonzales is also traumatized by the attack on her daughter, he said.
Staff at the Econo Lodge failed to implement necessary security protocols required in order to ensure the safety of their guests, he said.
"Whether you're staying at an Econo Lodge or you're staying at a Marriott or you're staying at a Four Seasons, we trust that hotel to provide us with a very basic level of security," he said. "At the end of the day, it comes down to ensuring that the room keys that are provided for guests are given to those guests."
Both Gallegos and her mother have suffered damages including bodily injury, medical expenses, pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement and emotional distress the lawsuit says.
In addition to seeking monetary compensation, Haltzman and Gallegos and Gonzales hope Econo Lodge will take responsibility for its role in the attack and change protocols so a similar incident doesn't occur in the future.
"They really just came short of opening that door for (Czichos) and allowing this to happen," he said. "... They didn't put the knife in his hand, but they put the key in his hand."
See the original article here: https://www.modbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article276189366.html
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