Econo Lodge in Longmont is facing a lawsuit after employees allegedly gave a room key to a man accused of entering an occupied room and brutally attacking two women staying at the hotel.
Nicole Gallegos and her mother, Carol Gonzales, are suing the hotel for negligence, including negligent hiring, retention, supervision and infliction of emotional distress, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress, premises liability and liability for the employees’ actions as agents of the hotel.
The two women, with representation from Haltzman Law Firm, filed a complaint against the hotel at 10811 Interstate 25 Frontage Road on June 5. The complaint accuses the hotel of recklessly failing to ensure the safety of their guests, failing to follow safety policies such as restricting room access to guests and hiring unqualified individuals.
On Jan. 3, Gallegos occupied a temporary resident room, rented by Gonzales. The two had a guest, 31-year-old Cody Czichos, visit the room to eat pizza and watch television.
During Czichos’ visit, he began acting irrationally and unpredictably, resulting in both women asking him to leave. At the time, he agreed to leave.
The two women said Czichos lost his balance and repeatedly packed and unpacked his backpack while in the process of leaving. He then left the room with the door secured behind him.
The women never communicated to employees of the hotel that Czichos should have access to their room nor did they give him a key card to access the room, the complaint said. He was not a registered guest of the hotel nor was he listed in reference to the room.
In the evening, two employees, Socorro Salacar and her husband, Michael Tussey, were working at the front desk of the hotel.
Czichos returned to the hotel and approached the desk. He asked Salacar and Tussey for a pen and a piece of paper. Both employees saw Czichos write on the paper while muttering threatening statements. They also indicated Czichos almost fainted during this initial interaction.
Tussey said in a police report that Czichos was clearly intoxicated and that Czichos said he took a lot of Xanax, a prescription sedative that is commonly abused.
The lawsuit argues Salacar and Tussey were explicitly aware of Czichos’ altered mental state, in addition to his “ominous statements.” Both knew he was a potential threat, but they took no action.
After displaying intoxicated behavior in the hotel lobby for 45 minutes to an hour, Czichos requested a key card to access Gallegos and Gonzales’ room.
The lawsuit accuses front desk employees, including Salacar and Tussey, of not checking Czichos’ ID to confirm if he was a registered guest, not cross-checking the room reservation with a name provided by Czichos and not calling the occupants of the room to confirm if he was an invited guest.
After the staff handed over the key card, the complaint states, Czichos walked to the room and entered the door. Upon entering the room, he and Gonzales began to argue. Czichos then slapped Gonzales across the face, according to the lawsuit.
Gonzales placed a call to the front desk of the hotel, requesting employees call 911 because of Czichos’ behavior. Around this time, Czichos exited the room.
Immediately after Czichos departed, Gonzales left the room, secured the door behind her and ran to the front desk to make sure he was no longer in the building.
When Gonzales saw Czichos in the foyer, he became irate once again and charged at her, according to the complaint, throwing punches as he ran past her and the front desk. Employees then ushered Gonzales away to a separate room.
Czichos, using the key card, returned back to the room where Gallegos was still located. Gallegos woke up to Czichos on top of her with a knife in his hand and threatening to kill her, the lawsuit states.
The blade missed Gallegos’ throat, and her chin was slashed in the struggle to get away. Czichos then cut through Gallegos’ hand as she raised it to defend herself from his blade, which slashed through and completely severed all of the tendons in her thumb, according to the lawsuit.
Czichos is accused of stomping on Gallegos’ head, knocking out one of her teeth, chipping another and causing a traumatic brain injury. He broke eight of her ribs with a kick, the complaint said.
After the attack, Czichos fled the hotel. Shortly after, he was arrested by Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
He faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, third-degree assault and domestic violence. He remains in custody on a $100,000 bond.
Czichos will appear for a disposition hearing at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Weld District Court.
Inside the hotel room, Gonzales and Salacar found Gallegos wrapped in a blanket, cowering on the ground and bleeding profusely. The room had blood smeared across multiple surfaces, including a pool of blood between the two beds.
“While it may have been Czichos wielding the blade against Plaintiff, it was Defendants and their employees that just short of literally opened the door to the Room to permit the vicious attack to occur,” the lawsuit said.
A front desk employee at the Econo Lodge told the Tribune the hotel’s lawyers are advising they cannot discuss the open case. He did, however, indicate the lawsuit was spreading lies about what happened on Jan. 3.
The victims are requesting a jury trial.
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