The 2018 death of a Brookhaven woman found with a maggot-infested wound in a local hotel was due to the staff’s negligence, her daughter claims in a recently filed wrongful-death lawsuit.
Natalie Burson filed the lawsuit Oct. 1 in the state court of DeKalb County against Residence Inn by Marriott, the temporary housing company ALE Solutions, and hotel management company Aimbridge Hospitality. Residence Inn and Aimbridge Hospitality did not respond to requests for comment.
Burson alleges that the hotel staff at the Residence Inn Atlanta at 2220 Lake Boulevard, near the Buckhead border in Lenox Park, neglected to check on her 70-year-old mother Joanne Burson despite Natalie repeatedly asking them. That neglect led to her mother’s death, the lawsuit claims.
Natalie and Joanne Burson lived together but were moved out of their house and into separate temporary housing by ALE Solutions via their insurance company because of home repairs, according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson was in the hotel for eight months before her death.
Tony Frank, an attorney for ALE Solutions, said in an email the company “does not manage, own, or have any influence or control over the day-to-day operation of the hotels our clients choose.”
“She thought her mother was part of this family, that the people who worked there cared for her, said attorney Lloyd Bell, who is representing Natalie Burson. “Natalie still believes that, but she believes the hotel has put down a wall of silence to try to avoid responsibility, and that’s what really infuriates her.”
The lawsuit says that Joanne Burson became acquainted with staff members, who would help walk her dog and bring food to her room.
In late September 2018, Natalie Burson tried to check in with her mother over the phone but could not reach her. She called the hotel to check on her mother, and allegedly was told she was “fine and well.”
Burson was not able to get in contact with her mother for days, according to the lawsuit, and the hotel staff allegedly would not let her go see her mother.
After Burson threatened to call the police to be able to see her mother, she got a call from ALE Solutions telling her that her mother had fallen and was being taken to Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital, according to the lawsuit.
Joanne Burson was unresponsive at the hospital and had a wound on her hip that was infested with maggots, according to the lawsuit. A doctor told Natalie Burson that her mother “must have been left lying on the floor for days,” according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson died Oct. 4, 2018.
“Natalie is a very strong woman,” Bell said. “She would describe herself as a tough New Yorker, as her mother was, but she’s just been traumatized by this. She was very close to her mother.”
The hotel would not give Natalie Burson a copy of the ambulance’s incident report, the lawsuit alleges. When Burson went to her mother’s old room, the room “was infested with bugs, flies, worms, maggots and dog feces,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges negligence by the hotel for not cleaning Joanne Burson’s room or checking on her, and fraud for telling Natalie Burson that her mother was doing well. It also alleges negligence against ALE Solutions for placing the mother and daughter in different temporary housing.
“The Residence Inn staff violated multiple duties, and those violations caused Joanne Burson to lie injured and stranded in her room, as a wound developed, as vermin ate her flesh, as infections went without medical treatment, and as she went into the septic shock that ultimately killed her,” the lawsuit says.
Bell said the lawsuit was filed at the beginning of October because the two-year statute of limitations was almost up. The defendants have 30 days to answer the lawsuit, Bell said.