Brewton hotel faces lawsuits

Published 3:23 pm Monday, May 17, 2004

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
There was, at some point, a hole in the wall of room 206 of the Days Inn in Brewton. And room 106. The holes, filled in with a putty-like substance, were found by the Brewton Police, shortly after a family staying at the hotel alleged that their privacy had been invaded.
But who cut the holes, and what -- if any -- purpose they served is at the heart of a lawsuit currently making its way through the Escambia County Circuit Court.
But Augustine Meaher, who represents Sarju Patel -- whose family owns the local Days Inn -- tells a different story.
Asked whether his clients knew how the holes got there, Meaher said, "No, sir. We only wish that we knew, because it is still not clear to me or Mr. Patel how a hole would have gotten there."
This all started on June 23, 2001, when two generations of a clan from Decatur traveled to Brewton to attend a family reunion. Charles Moye and his wife, Elsa, checked into room 206 of the Days Inn, while their son, Andy Moye, along with his wife and children, checked into room 106.
While in the rooms, the Moyes naturally bathed and dressed.
The next morning, the Moyes in room 106 discovered a hole in the wall of their room. Further inspection led to the discovery of a hole in the wall of Charles and Elsa Moye's room as well.
The family called police to the scene. Brewton Chief of Police Mickey Lovelace remembers going to the hotel that day, and finding spots on the wall that had obviously been holes, but which had been filled in with a putty-like substance.
Yance acknowledges that when Andy Moye found the hole in his room, it was filled. But he points out that there is no way to know how long it had been filled. In fact, Yance said he believes he can prove in court that the hole had not been filled for long.
And Yance said that other violations of his clients' privacy were found as well, including mirrors with the silvering scraped off the backs to allow a person on the other side to see through.
As the lawsuit progressed, Yance obtained the right to conduct his own searches -- always on Sundays, so that hotel business would be impacted as little as possible.
The holes in question all open onto utility chases between the rooms. These are narrow walkways that allow for access to plumbing, air conditioning and other machinery.
Meaher said that after the Moyes' complaint was brought to light, stricter security was enforced in regard to the security chases.
Charles and Elsa Moye are suing the Patels and Days Inn. Separately, so is Andy Moye. Yance is the attorney in both cases, and also has a third client: Julie Mummert, who stayed in the hotel last year, and filed suit when she learned of the alleged peepholes.
A status hearing in the cases is set for May 20. It will determine if any of them are yet ready to go to trial. Yance said that Andy Moye's cases is ready, but the other two are not.

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