A case considering the extent of hotel responsibility for guest safety could reshape the hospitality industry. Hotels, like others opening their doors to customers, have an obligation to ensure a reasonably safe premises for guests. This means, among other things, ensuring guests are not put in unreasonable danger of becoming victims of crimes. If a hotel fails in its obligations, it could face a lawsuit for negligent security and could be held responsible for losses caused by violence guests face.
When is a Hotel Responsible for Negligent Security
Fox reported on one negligent security case that could have a major impact on the hospitality industry. The case involves an 83-year-old woman who claims she was raped in her hotel room. The woman was visiting her husband with Alzheimer's and went to stay in a hotel on her visit. She had several glasses of wine and as she was consuming the wine in the hotel bar, a man talked to her. The man offered to walk her to her room. He was not a guest at the hotel.
The man and woman went to the front desk together because the woman was unable to find her key. The clerk made a key and gave it to the man. The man and women walked off, and 15 minutes later, the bartender went to the desk clerk and expressed concern for the older woman's safety. The bartender asked the clerk to go and look for the woman and make sure she was OK.
The clerk found the man and woman on a different floor than the woman's room. She watched the man walk the woman to the area where her room was located. The clerk indicated the elderly woman seemed confused. The clerk watched the man open the door with the woman's key, prod the elderly woman to go inside, slip in behind her, and close the door. The clerk also heard the man deadbolt the door. The clerk listened for several seconds, did not hear noises, and went back downstairs. The man allegedly proceeded to rape the woman in her hotel room.
The victim is claiming the hotel did not adequately train employees on how to ensure guest safety and is claiming the hotel should have had working security cameras in public areas. A negligent security lawsuit has been brought against the hotel, as the victim seeks to be compensated by the hotel chain for the damages. The hotel may be held responsible if it is found the clerk was negligent in taking reasonable steps to ensure the safety of guests, or if it is determined the lack of cameras or other security measures created an unreasonable risk of harm to patrons of the establishment.