CHICAGO (CN) – An Air India pilot sued a Wyndham hotel, claiming it let a woman barge into his room and steal $500, then calmly walk past hotel security by falsely claiming he had called her for sex and refused to pay.
Pankul Mathur sued Hospitality Properties Trust and Wyndham Hotel Management in Cook County Court. He claims the bizarre incident began while he was jet-lagged and sleeping in a room at Hotel 71 on Chicago’s Wacker Drive.
“On April 15, 2013, Air India had made arrangements with Hotel 71 for Mathur and his flight crew to stay overnight at Hotel 71,” the complaint states. The hotel is owned by Hospitality Properties and operated by Wyndham.
The complaint continues: “Mathur checked into Hotel 71 and was given room number 1507.
“After Mathur had fallen asleep that night in his hotel room, at approximately 10:45 p.m., a frantic and loud banging on his room’s door woke him up with a start.
“Mathur, who was half-asleep, had jet lag, and was in a foreign country, thought there was an emergency in the hotel and opened the door. Mathur’s room did not have a safety latch to allow him to only open the door a little while still keeping the occupant safe.
“When Mathur opened the door, a huge African-American woman wearing a black leather jacket and black jeans forcefully pushed open the door, barged into the room, and pushed her way to the center of the room.
“The intruder then saw and picked up Mathur’s wallet which was lying on the bedside table between the two beds.
“The intruder took out all the cash from Mathur’s wallet (over $500), and threw the remaining papers from the wallet onto the bed along with the wallet.
“While this was occurring, Mathur was screaming at the intruder to leave his room. Mathur then picked up the room’s telephone to call the hotel operator for help. The intruder yanked the telephone cable connecting the handset from the base.
“At this point, Mathur ran out of the room and into the hotel hallway repeatedly screaming at the top of my voice, ‘Help me! I am being robbed!’ There was no response from anyone.
“Mathur then found a housekeeping staff member in Hotel 71 uniform standing at the service elevator on his floor. Mathur shouted out to him, ‘Please help, I am being robbed.’
“The Hotel 71 staff member did not react.
“The Hotel 71 staff member casually responded, ‘It’s not my job to call the police.'”
The “huge African-American woman” was waiting for the elevator to go down to the lobby and told the hotel employee that Mathur “‘called me for prostitution and was not paying so I am just taking his money,'” according to the complaint.
“The Hotel 71 staff member responded to the intruder, ‘Don’t worry, if they ask I will also say that he called you for prostitution and was not paying.’
“In making this comment, the Hotel 71 staff member was very likely involved in the assault, battery and theft, and was the intruder’s inside accomplice. If the staff member was not an accomplice, then at best he was stunningly careless toward a guest at the hotel,” Mathur says in the complaint.
He claims he took the elevator down to the lobby with the intruder, and when “the doors opened, Mathur immediately exited the elevator screaming at the top of his voice, ‘I have been robbed! Stop this woman! I have been robbed!’
“The lobby and the adjacent Hoyt’s restaurant were full with people, but no Hotel 71 staff member responded.
“The intruder casually strolled out of the hotel exiting from Hoyt’s restaurant onto the street.
“Finally, two men from Hotel 71 security appeared, saw the intruder walking away, and walked after her, but the intruder was already out the door onto the street. Mathur followed the two security guards and the intruder as well.
“The two security guards followed the intruder a few steps, then stopped, and then returned to Mathur saying, ‘She is not on our premises, and we cannot stop her or detain her.'”
Then, “instead of assisting Mathur and calling the police, the duty manager at the front desk told Mathur to keep his voice down so as not to attract any attention,” and refused to call the police, according to the complaint. The desk manager said “that if Mathur persisted in his requests to call the police and did not keep his voice low to prevent attention, then Mathur would be removed from the lobby.”
Mathur says he persisted, but by the time police arrived it was too late for them catch the thief, and Hotel 71’s security refused to produce the housekeeping staff member he believes was the accomplice.
Hotel 71’s surveillance video of the intruder shows that “from the time the intruder entered the hotel premises to the time she walked out was only five to six minutes, which means she came to the hotel, went to the elevator, went to Mathur’s floor, went to Mathur’s room, executed the crime, and immediately walked out without any detours. The intruder could not have known exactly on what floor and exactly in what room a foreign airline captain was in without inside assistance from Hotel 71 staff,” Mathur says in the complaint.
He says he has been “deeply traumatized from this assault, battery, and robbery, and Hotel 71’s refusal to assist him and instead embarrass him in the lobby in front of other guests.”
He seeks punitive damages for negligence and emotional distress.
He is represented by Sanjay Shivpuri with Chuhak & Tecson.
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