“A reasonable person could foresee that a group of intoxicated individuals evicted from a hotel might be involved in a drunk driving accident that causes injuries.” Opinion. The Court affirmed the court of appeals’ ruling that hotels owe guests a duty of care not to evict them into a foreseeably dangerous environment, taking into account the guest’s physical state and the conditions into which she is evicted, including the time, surroundings and weather. Liability is limited by challenging the causal connection to the injury or by blaming other contributing factors. Whether an act caused an injury is fact-specific making summary judgment for the hotel improper. The dissent agreed the duty existed. But here, the plaintiff walked past two taxis. If the availability of alternative transportation is not sufficient to grant summary judgment for the hotel, then all cases go to a jury.
Tag Archives: Duty of Care
Westin Operator, LLC v. Jillian Groh, through her guardians and conservators William and Janelle Groh, 2015CO25 (April 13, 2015)
Jillian Groh, individually and by and through her guardians and conservators, William and Janelle Groh v. Westin v. Westin Operator, LLC, 2013COA39 (March 28, 2013)
Fortunes change in the blink of an eye. A group of revelers, too large for their hotel room, were evicted. Although drunk, they drove and got into an accident. Plaintiff, who rented the room and was a passenger, sued the hotel for nonfeasance because it failed to prevent the accident. The trial court dismissed the claim. Reversing, the court of appeals held that because innkeepers have a special relationship with guests, if it evicts them, it must do so reasonably. It concluded: 1) injury to an evicted drunk guest into a cold night is foreseeable; 2) minimal effort could mitigate the risk; 3) the existence of countervailing duties was questionable; and 4) innkeepers are in a better position than drunk guests to avoid potential harm following eviction. Thus, judgment for the hotel was reversed. The dissent (formerly the majority) concluded the hotel owed no duty to the guest.
The Supreme Court affirmed HERE
Sara L. Burnett v. State of Colorado, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, 2013COA42 (March 28, 2013)
If a tree falls in the forest, will a court hear a claim in court? In this case, no. A tree branch falls on a camper; the tree was next to the official campsite. Here, the issue was whether the tree was a “public facility” and part of the campground. The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act grants immunity for injuries caused by natural conditions not on a public facility. The trial court, and the court of appeals held that a tree is not a public facility because it is not integral to the use and enjoyment of the campground “merely because they provide shade, protection, and aesthetic values…” Also, the tree, next to the campsite, was still in an “unimproved” area and was a natural condition; so, the state had no duty to maintain the tree. The dissent would have found the tree incorporated into the facility, and a dangerous condition for which the state was responsible. The state was immune.
NOTE: The Colorado Supreme Court granted Certiorari on November 12, 2103.
Wile E. Coyote never got the Road Runner to smack into his wall painted like a road. Here, City hired Vista to construct medians in the middle of a road. The medians were completed by Vista and accepted by the City. For a while, the double yellow stripes led straight into the median, where plaintiff crashed her car. She sued Vista under both the PLA and common law negligence. After rejecting the application of the PLA because Vista was not a “landowner,” the court of appeals adopted new construction liability standards. It rejected the “completed and accepted” doctrine under which construction companies owed no duties to third parties after completing work. The court adopted a “foreseeability rule” making companies potentially liable even after work is completed, if it would be unreasonable to expect another party to mitigate a danger. The case was remanded to apply the new standard.
This post describes the opinion that was withdrawn. See HERE for the summary of the new opinion in which the opposite conclusion was reached.
This story ends with a drunk driving accident that killed one and put another into a vegetative state. It started with a night on the town that ended at a hotel to avoid drunk driving. The hotel, not wanting 7 loud drunk people in a room rented for 3, evicted the group, who then got into a car with a drunk driver. Plaintiff, who rented the room and was a passenger, sued the hotel, claiming it unreasonably failed to prevent her accident (nonfeasance). The trial court dismissed and the court of appeals agreed. The majority held that because she was evicted, the hotel did not owe her a special duty of care, and it did not take affirmative action to assume a duty of care. The court also held that the hotel did not have sufficient control to prevent the accident. The dissent would not have dismissed the case on summary judgment because disputed facts could have established a duty of care.
Prior Opinion Announced November 1, 2012, WITHDRAWN Petition for Rehearing GRANTED Furman, J., would DENY