A proposed class action lawsuit alleges the Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Westside hotel located in Culver City, California has unlawfully “flooded” its lobby and guest rooms with “dangerous fragrances” known to cause respiratory issues, headaches, skin irritation and other adverse health problems.
Despite being aware of the sensitivities many have to fragrances, defendant Marriott International, Inc. has allegedly exposed tens of thousands of individuals to fragrant pollutants that the lawsuit claims may be derived from highly toxic petrochemicals. According to the 28-page complaint, Marriott, for “branding and/or other business purposes,” has sought to maximize revenue by utilizing scents that may pose harm to those with asthma or other recognized conditions.
“Even for those persons lucky enough to not share this level of susceptibility, the exposure remains, at best, an annoyance, an unwanted touching (battery) and/or a disruption to their culinary and other hoped-for experiences at the Marriott,” the complaint states.
The suit says that while the use of fragrances in hotels has waned, some operators still rely on artificial scents to mask unpleasant odors, such as mold smells, or to “promote a signature scent.” According to the complaint, fragranced products, however, “emit hundreds of volatile organic compounds” that may be toxic and lodge themselves in the bloodstream, breast milk or fatty tissue.
As the case tells it, the problem is not so much with a particular scent itself but with the chemical properties from which the fragrances are derived.
“Almost one-third of the chemical additives used in perfume are known to be toxic—not a surprise since, over the past 50 years, 80-90% of fragrances have been synthesized from petroleum,” the suit alleges.
According to the plaintiff, it’s “hardly an accident” that Marriott has released “harmful compounds” through the HVAC system at its Culver City Courtyard hotel. For facilities such as those operated by Marriott, commercial scent dispersion machines are available to imbue a “signature scent” with the aim of enhancing guest experience, the case says. The plaintiff contends, however, that such systems are merely delivery vehicles for toxic compounds to which some patrons may be highly sensitive.
“Vis-à-vis this equipment and process, guests/patrons can be assured a dose of toxins marketed (albeit, ironically) to enhance their hotel experience, but likely to cause skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, cognitive and other harm,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit describes the plaintiff as physically disabled in that she suffers from fragrance and chemical sensitivities and is consequently limited in her ability to breathe when exposed to such scents. Initially filed in Los Angeles County Court on November 27, 2019, the case has been removed to California’s Central District.