She used the microwave in her Virginia Beach hotel room. It could cost her $1.83 million.
By Scott Daugherty
May 22, 2017 Updated May 23, 2017
In 2015, Tina Grimes left a microwave running unattended in her Virginia Beach hotel room, according to court documents. It started a fire, and the sprinkler system activated.
The hotel’s insurance company now wants Grimes to pay $1.83 million.
Attorneys for Grimes and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. are set to argue the case in front of a jury Oct. 31 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
After picking that date Friday, attorneys declined to comment. Grimes, of Pasadena, Md., near Baltimore, could not be reached for comment.
In court documents, Grimes denied the fire was caused in the manner alleged, and further denied any act of negligence or breach of duty on her part.
The lawsuit, filed March 21, stems from Grimes’ May 9, 2015, visit to Virginia Beach. The lawsuit claimed she was staying in Room 718 of the Candlewood Suites at 4437 Bonney Road.
That hotel does not have a Room 718, though. Officials with the Virginia Beach Fire Department said there was a fire that day next door at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 4453 Bonney Road.
Candlewood Suites staff described the eight-floor Crowne Plaza as a “sister property.”
According to a Fire Department spokesman, the Crowne Plaza fire was reported about 6:15 p.m. on the hotel’s seventh floor and extinguished quickly after a firefighter placed the microwave under one of the building’s sprinkler heads.
Art Kohn Jr. said the origin of the fire was “most likely the microwave oven inside the room,” but he stressed that investigators were never able to determine a cause.
“Nothing other than the plug to the microwave and receptacle in the cabinet housing the microwave suffered heat damage,” Kohn said.
He said the building suffered “severe water damage” on floors one through seven.
The lawsuit claimed Grimes left an “operating microwave oven” unattended in the room for unspecified reasons. It said the microwave was operating for an “indefinite amount of time” before a fire resulted and the hotel’s sprinkler system activated.
Kohn said “partially cooked food” was found in the microwave.
But, he said, a woman staying in the room with three children said she was “100% sure that everything in the room was off” before they left to run errands.
The woman acknowledged that one of the girls had been microwaving lasagna before they left, Kohn said. He added that the room’s electrical panel box had been thrown to the off position.
The insurance company was required to pay the hotel’s owner, Landmark Hotel Group, more than $1.83 million to cover the damages, court documents said. The company now wants Grimes to pay it back.
The lawsuit claimed that Grimes owed the hotel “a duty to refrain from engaging in behavior that would pose a risk of harm to the safety of persons or property.”
Among other things, it alleged she failed to operate the microwave in a “reasonably safe manner.”
Fire starts, is extinguished at Virginia Beach hotel
May 9, 2015
The Crowne Plaza Hotel caught fire Saturday night before the blaze was extinguished by the building's fire-suppression system. Nobody was injured.
The fire started on the seventh floor of the eight-story hotel, at 4453 Bonney Road. Firefighters were dispatched at 6:13 and arrived at 6:16 p.m. The cause is under investigation.
The fire department was working with hotel staff to try to determine how many people can remain in their rooms and whether any will have to be moved.
No other information was available.