Harrah’s Atlantic City Guest Files Lawsuit for Burns Endured on Sundeck

Harrah's Atlantic City Outdoor Sundeck Lawsuit

A picture of the outdoor sundeck at Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort & Casino.

Howard Thompson, a 50-year old Philadelphia man, filed a lawsuit against Harrah’s Atlantic City Casino Resort after he lost part of his foot due to third-degree burns. Mr. Thompson claims the injury came from a sun deck at the Resort.

Harrah’s has denied any liability to the claims against them and has attempted twice to have the case thrown out. However, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez denied their attempts and agreed to proceed with the case which a trial is set for April 15.

The lawsuit states that the Thompsons are seeking at least $500,000 in damages from the pain caused to Howard Thompson, as well as to cover the medical bills accumulated during treatment as a result of the burn. The plaintiff’s lawyers also sought damages due to Thompson not being able to work or enjoy life fully anymore.

Howard Thompson suffers from diabetic neuropathy, which results in a lack of sensation in his feet. Due to his condition, he was unable to feel the extent of the heat from the sun deck, which led to the solar rays “cooking” his feet.

The Plaintiff’s Story

On May 30, 2012, the Thompson family was lounging on the sundeck near the pool at the Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. According to the couple, Howard Thompson talked to his wife for roughly 20 to 30 minutes while he stood on the hot sundeck.

It was not until the two returned to their room that they noticed a small burn on the bottom of Howards left foot. They said at that time they decided they would monitor it closely.

Nazarath Hospital Diagnosed 3rd Degree Burns

After several days Thompson sought treatment at Nazareth Hospital’s emergency room after his wound become more and more painful. He was then diagnosed with a third-degree burn and cellulitis which is a bacterial skin infection.

After attempting to treat the burn and infections with antibiotics and surgeries , doctors had to take extreme measures to stop the spread of infection. Being diabetic made the possibly minor situation much more problematic. On August 28, 2012, after the infection spread to the bone, most of Thompson’s left foot was amputated.

According to Dr. Ali Albert Anaim, an expert witness for Thompson, the plaintiff is looking at the possibility of more amputations in his future. Beyond the threat of more surgeries, Thompson is no longer able to stand for longer than an hour at a time. He now is unable to continue to work as a “booter” for the Philadelphia Parking Authority – his previous job.

Pavement an Estimate 137 Degrees

According to Mark Meshulam, a building consultant that was hired by Howard Thompson, the hot pavers on the roof-top deck were literally “cooking” at least one of his feet. Under similar conditions on the day the burns took place, Meshulam tested the surface of the pavers on the sun deck and determined that the surface was 137 degrees, which is more than enough to cook a person’s foot.

Meshulam stated in his report: “The massive concrete pavers… cooked his feet at a temperature that would produce a steak done medium, except that the steak would be taken off the burner after a few minutes, while Mr. Thompson’s feet were exposed to the heat for a far longer duration.”

Mr. Meshulam argued that the sunlight reflecting off of the glass windows of the resorts towers onto the pavement caused them to heat up to the high heat. The hotel provided no warning signs informing guests of the extremely hot pavers, nor was there a requirement to wear shoes while on the deck.

Originally Sued the Sundeck Designers

Initially the Thompsons tried to sue the companies they believed responsible for the design of the deck as well as those who supplied the pavers. However, in 2017 and 2018, Rodriguez dismissed the claims against the companies.

Victor Wasilauskas, the attorney and spokesman for Harrah’s, had no comment regarding the claims against the casino hotel. According to early filings, Harrah’s may claim that Thompson’s injuries were suffered from was a result of neglect on Thompson’s part – by his failure to receive treatment sooner and because he failed to take into account his diabetes once he received the burn.

Harrah’s Atlantic City management stated that they have no previous complaints regarding the pavers being too hot or causing any other injuries.