Lawsuit: Sun Dial restaurant ‘had no protections' to stop 5-year-old's death

ATLANTA — The parents of a 5-year-old boy who died from a head injury after he was caught in the rotating wall at the Sun Dial restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza have filed a lawsuit claiming negligence against the restaurant and hotel.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges the restaurant was failed to prevent a “longstanding safety hazard,” that led to Charlie Holt’s death and disputes initial claims the boy wandered a way from his family.

“The Sun Dial had no protections to stop children from getting close to the pinch point or to stop the rotation of the floor if a child became trapped in the pinch point,” the lawsuit states.

Charlie Holt was visiting with his parents, Rebecca and Michael Holt from Charlotte, N.C., on April 14 when he was caught between a wall and table as the dining area rotated. The family was seated near a window, but the boy wandered away from the table, Atlanta police said at the time.


Westin security staff and employees freed Charlie, police said, but it was too late — he later died at Grady Memorial Hospital from a crushed skull.

The Holt family attorney Joe Fried said Charlie hadn’t wandered away from his family, contrary to police statements.

"The family was leaving the restaurant together after paying their bill," Fried said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late Thursday. "They were walking to the exit, following the same path that the hostess used to walk them to their table and that they used to walk to and from the restroom earlier. Charlie was only a few steps ahead."

Fried said the path was blocked when a booth rotated near a stationary interior wall, trapping Charlie between the booth and wall.

Rebecca and Michael Holt rushed to help Charlie, but he was stuck.

“By the time someone could manually stop the rotation, it was too late,” Fried said. “Charlie’s head had been pulled into the narrow pinch point and he suffered catastrophic head trauma — right in front of his parents.”

The lawsuit alleges there was no guard to prevent people from getting trapped and that there was no emergency stop button on the wall or automatic safety cut off if someone was trapped.
Marriott International, Inc., who owns the Westin Peachtree Hotel and the Sun Dial restaurant, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, LLC were also named in the suit.