LIHUE — A U.S. State Department employee is suing Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club for an injury that occurred in 2011.
Kaitlin Muench, 26, is a resident of Avon, Conn., and a career officer with the U.S. Foreign Service. She filed suit on July 31 in 5th Circuit Court against Delaware-based Marriott International for injuries resulting from a wall-mounted television that fell on her in the hotel exercise room.
Muench was in excellent physical and mental health at the time of the accident.
She suffered a herniated disk in her lower back and does not know yet if it will require surgery, said her private attorney Teresa Tico.
“As an employee of the state department, she is required to undergo a rigorous physical examination in order to remain employed in the Foreign Service,” Tico said. “She is able to work and is abroad right now, but is worried that her injury will prevent her from passing future physicals and her employment could be terminated.”
The Kauai Marriott has accepted responsibility and apologized to the Muench, said Tico. The civil suit was not intended but the lack of response to a negotiated settlement required that Muench file a complaint prior to the one-year statute of limitations, she added.
In addition to medical damages, should Muench fail a State Department physical the potential earnings loss is substantial, Tico said. The Foreign Service was her dream job since high school, she added.
Visiting Kauai was another dream that Muench had and was having a great vacation, she said, until a “freak accident” sent her to the hospital on Aug. 19, 2011.
“She was working out in the newly-remodeled workout facility when she leaned over a fountain to fill up her water bottle,” Tico said.
A 27-inch flat screen television that was mounted above the water fountain fell and struck Muench on her lower back.
She was unable to stand and walk on her own and an ambulance brought her to Wilcox Memorial Hospital Emergency Room.
The X-rays did not reveal any broken vertebrate but Muench was diagnosed with an annular tear or herniated disk after soft tissue scans.
She continues to suffer pain and numbness in her right leg and foot. Her range of motion and mobility is also impacted.
A spokesperson for Kauai Marriott said the claims department could not comment on the matter during litigation.