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Unformatted text preview: Week Five - Chapters 7 & 9
The Rights and Obligations of an Innkeeper.
*An innkeeper is a hotel, motel, inn, or even an hostel.
*An innkeeper owes certain duties to those who use the hotel’s facilities, including guests.
*A guest is an innkeeper’s invitee, and is owed the same duties owed to any invitee, plus some additional duties, such as the duty of decent and respectful treatment. *A restaurant can be disrespectful to its customers, though it is not a good idea for business reasons.
*Conversely, a hotel that humiliates its guest may be liable for damages.
*There are additional duties that are owed to guest, that are not owed to other invitees.
*For this reason, there may be times when a hotel may try to argue that a person was not a guest thereby reducing the possibility of liability to that person.
*What makes someone a guest?
*The innkeeperguest relationship is contractual in nature.
*As with any contract, it can be express or implied, but it requires an intent of the parties to enter the contract.
*A guest is a person who comes to the innkeeper’s premises for the purpose of an overnight stay.
*This is the reason the innkeeper’s premises are open to the public.
*The innkeeper must also intend to enter the relationship by accepting the person as a guest.
*A person who enters the hotel’s gift shop or restaurant, or uses the public restroom, may be an invitee or licensee, but is probably not a guest unless they intend to check in for an overnight stay.
*The actions of the parties can provide evidence of whether they intended to enter the innkeeperguest relationship.
*Registering for a room. *An advance reservation.
*Acceptance by the hotel of someone’s personal property, knowing that they will be arriving at some future time with the intent to check in as a guest.
*Someone who accompanies a guest and stays overnight on their room, even if they have no reservation and have not registered.
*This would generally require that the hotel knew or should have known that the unregistered person was on premises.
*Once the hotel knows of their presence on premises, they should either act to eject that person as a nonguest or they probably will have accepted them as a guest.
*Guests’ Illegal Acts
*Neither false registration nor an illegal or immoral purpose in occupying a room changes a person’s status as a guest to whom the facility owes a duty. *A prostitute that rents a room in the hotel is still a guest.
*The illegal actions of a guest may allow the hotel to eject them – terminate the relationship – but they remain a guest until that time and are owed the duties owed a guest. *When does the innkeeperguest relationship begin?
*When the elements of a contract, either implied or express, are satisfied.
*When offer and acceptance have occurred.
*Advance reservation, even if the guest will not be show up until two weeks later.
*Delivery and acceptance of guest personal property.
*Acceptance of a person on premises, by the innkeeper, as a guest.
*The guest status may even start before checkin, as when a person enters a hotel lobby and plans to register, but has not yet done so. A court may decide they are already owed the duty owed to a guest. *When does the innkeeperguest relationship end?
*When the guest checks out.
*When the guest’s room rental contract expires.
*When the guest commits an illegal act that give the innkeeper the right to terminate the relationship.
*Whenthe guest commits a material breach that give the innkeeper the right to terminate the relationship.
*As to any of the above events, the relationship does not end instantaneously, as the guest cannot beam out to their car with all of their luggage at that time.
*A guest continues to be owed the duties owed to a guest, for a reasonable time after the event that would otherwise terminate the relationship.
*A person who rents a room from a hotel or motel could be entering a landlord – tenant relationship, instead of an innkeeper guest relationship.
*A tenant is someone who rents a room on a long
term basis, as opposed to an overnight, or transient, rental.
*Factors to determine whether a renter is a guest or a tenant may include:
*Terms of the contract between parties
*Extent to which control/supervision of patron’s room is maintained by proprietor
*Rental rate interval
*Length of occupancy
*Incidental services offered
*Whether the room has cooking facilities
*Type of furnishings and who owns them
*Many of these factors are based upon old cases and changes in the industry may have affected the importance of some of them, as the law catches up with reallife. For instance, many hotels now provide a small refrigerator and microwave to all guests, or even a full kitchen. Also, extended stay hotels may have guests who rent a room for 30 days or more.
*Why is it important whether a roomrenter is a guest or a tenant?
guest or a tenant?
*If the innkeeper wants to evict the renter, it would be preferable that the renter be a guest.
*If the innkeeper does not want to be responsible for the personal property of the renter, where the property was in the rented unit, it would be preferable that the renter be a tenant.
*If the innkeeper wants to exert control over the rented room, it would be preferable that the renter be a guest.
*If the innkeeper wants limited liability for the valuables of the renter, that have been placed in the innkeeper’s safe, it would be preferable that the renter be a guest.
The Innkeeper – Guest Relationship.
*Although customers are the business of hotels and restaurants, disorderly or otherwise troublesome customers can interfere with the enjoyment of other patrons and damage the reputation of the business. *Hotels and restaurants may not want to serve such people.
*Allowing such people onto the premises may even be a breach of the duty owed to those who already the business owner’s invitees and licensees – the duty to provide safe and secure premises and protect them from foreseeable dangerous conditions – subjecting the business owner to legal liability.
*Innkeepers and restaurateurs extend an implied license to the general public, including nonguests, to enter their facility, sit in the lobby or use a public restroom.
*Such nonguest would be considered licensees and not trespassers.
*This implied license for nonguests can be expressly revoked by the innkeeper at any time.
*If the licensee is asked to leave and fails to do so, they become a trespasser.
*To eject a trespasser, the innkeeper or restaurant may legally use reasonable force to evict a trespasser—only after being asked and trespasser refuses.
*Best practice (if time permits) is to call the police, as they will use that force which is reasonable and no force will be exerted by the premises, helping to avoid liability.
*Even if the police are used to eject the trespasser, the premises could still be liable for the action if they are incorrect and do not have the legal right to eject. *Force may be necessary if the trespasser is threatening others who have the right to be on the premises and there isn’t time to wait for police.
*Only the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to remove trespasser is permitted.
*More force than is reasonably necessary would be considered excessive force and may be grounds for a lawsuit based upon one or more intentional torts.
*Innkeeper’s potential intentional tort liability that may result from the use of excessive force:
*Battery – an unpermitted, offensive or harmful contact.
*If there is no actual touching of the plaintiff, there is generally no battery.
*The plaintiff need not show physical harm resulting from the touching. An offensive contact, such as a contact that is unwelcome and sexual in nature may suffice.
*Excessive force used by an innkeeper would be an unpermitted contact.
*Assault – A threatened battery, with the apparent ability to imminently carry out the threat.
*A fake gun pointed at the plaintiff would be an assault, even if there was no way that a shot could be fired.
*It is the reasonable belief of the plaintiff that is relevant in assault.
*If the plaintiff did not see the battery coming, then there is no threat, and therefore no assault.
*If there is no reasonable fear of the contact, there is no assault. *False imprisonment – The unauthorized or unreasonable detention or restraint of another.
*Defense: The detention or restraint was authorized and done in a reasonable manner.
*May occur in a situation of suspecting a customer or employee of theft.
*Could also occur in the process of forcibly ejecting a nonguest, if done improperly or if the right to eject did not exist.
*Defamation – Making a false statement of fact about another that causes harm to their reputation, standing in the community, or financial interests.
*The statement must be made to third party(s) – someone other than the plaintiff.
*Can be a printed or spoken statement.
*Defenses: truth of the statement; statement was opinion or not published; lack of damages; plaintiff was a public figure, requiring additional proof of actual malice.
*The commonlaw “Innkeeper’s Rule.”
*An innkeeper must provide accommodations to all who seek them.
*This duty is owed 24/7 – If the premises are open, someone must be available to check in a guest.
*Exceptions to the Innkeeper’s Rule – an innkeeper may refuse accommodations if:
*No vacancies. Reserved rooms or rooms under construction don’t count.
*Anyone who cannot, or is unwilling to, pay.
*Criminals, though how an innkeeper would know this, I have no idea.
*Intoxicated – under the influence of any intoxicant.
*Unclean and unkempt – dirty, smelly unbathed.
*Suffering from contagious disease
*Does not mean an STD, which takes some effort to catch, but something highly communicable.
*The disease may be a disability, bringing up possible discrimination issues, but the rights of the other guest may override the rights of the disabled person. *An innkeeper may also refuse accommodations if:
*Those in possession of firearms, explosives (including fireworks) or animals.
*As to the animals exception, this is less of an issue these days as more hotels are petfriendly anyway.
*If the animals are service animals, refusing the possessor could be disability discrimination.
*Even with a service animal, refusal might be possible, if the refusal was necessary to protect other guests or the hotel’s business.
*The person is of a known bad reputation, though again it may be hard for an innkeeper to know of this.
*Consider the potential guests are members of a wellknown rock band that is also wellknown for trashing the rooms of the hotels where they stay.
*This exception is more for the protection of the hotel and its business, than for the protection of the other guests.
*Wrongfully refused guests can sue for damages.
*Damages may include additional expenses of finding and staying at another hotel.
*As with damages in general, they must be foreseeable and provable.
*If the refusal is based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender or disability, it may violate federal civil rights laws.
*State civil rights laws may also be an issue, including discrimination on the basis of age, marital status, or sexual preference and gender identity.
*Hotel must pay fine for wrongful exclusion in addition to damages, if illegal discrimination existed.
*Remedy under civil rights law would bar further discrimination – an order forcing compliance with the law.
*Other rights of an innkeeper.
*An innkeeper may select what room the guest stays in.
*If the guest desires a room that is available and within their price point, the smart business practice is to provide it.
is to provide it.
*An innkeeper may change the guest’s room.
*The guest’s consent, prior notice, or even presence is not needed.
*Again, it is not good business to do this unless it necessary, i.e. to protect the guest or the premises.
*It would be best to do this in the guest’s presence to avoid any claims of liability due to lost possessions during the move.
*An innkeeper has a stronger right to enter the rented unit, than would a landlord.
*To perform necessary maintenance, to protect the guest’s safety or to legally evict the guest.
*Entry may be required in the case of protecting the guest from a dangerous condition.
*Despite this, the guest still has a right to privacy in the rented unit.
*Innkeeper has the right to evict a guest, but there must be grounds for the eviction.
*Grounds for eviction:
*Failure to pay bill a material breach of the contract.
*Overstaying a contract has expired. *Persons of ill repute. *disorderly conduct of the guest.
*Intoxication alone would not justify eviction.
*Contagiously ill guests as before the contagion must be highly communicable.
*Breaking house rules another breach of contract.
*This must a material breach. *Running in the pool area would probably not justify eviction.
*Smoking in the room or illegal conduct on premises would result in eviction.
*The rules must be posted conspicuously to become part of the bargain between the innkeeper and the guest.
*Persons not registered can be evicted as they are nonguests.
*If the innkeeper learns of their presence and does not evict, the innkeeper may be accepting that person as a guest. *An innkeeper generally cannot refuse accommodations or evict a guest if:
*The person has no luggage. *The person is a business competitor
*The competitor, or anyone else, can be evicted for soliciting other guests or others on premises.
*That would be a breaking of house rules.
*If eviction is legally justified, it should be carried out:
*With no harsh words
*Force should not be used unless absolutely necessary
*Wrongful eviction can result in damages:
*For physical injuries
*For mental and emotional distress
*As with the ejecting of a nonguest, eviction should be accomplished by asking them to leave.
*If they refuse, ask again.
*If they still refuse, call the police.
*This is for the same reasons, and potential torts, as mentioned before.
*If force is necessary, then it must be reasonable force.
*If the roomrenter would be considered a tenant, the process of eviction is much more complex and timeconsuming and potentially expensive than it would be to evict a guest.
*A court order of eviction would be required by law.
*In order to get that court order, state law may require the proprietor to a number of things first, such as:
*Personally serve a notice of eviction.
*File a complaint for eviction.
*Personally serve the tenant with notice of the court action.
*Tenant will have the opportunity for a court hearing.
*Judge may or may not order the tenant be evicted.
*The speed of this process can vary greatly from state to state. *A restaurant can refuse to proved services to a patron for no reason at all.
*Restaurant are not bound by an “innkeeper’s” rule, unless the restaurant is part of the hotel and it is a hotel guest who is being refused.
*A restaurant, though, cannot refuse a patron, where the refusal would violate federal or state discrimination laws as discussed earlier in these materials, but recapped here.
*If the refusal is based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender or disability, it may violate federal civil rights laws.
*State civil rights laws may also be an issue, including
discrimination on the basis of age, marital status, or
sexual preference and gender identity.
*Hotel must pay fine for wrongful exclusion in addition
to damages, if illegal discrimination existed.
*Remedy under civil rights law would bar further
discrimination – an order forcing compliance with
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2011 for the course LAW 2010 taught by Professor Davidspatt during the Fall '11 term at Johnson & Wales University- Charlotte.
- Fall '11