Hospitality Law – Fire Cases
This paper focuses on hospitality law as applicable to fire cases. Hospitality law is defined as a social and legal process concerning the treatment given to a guest of another person who patronizes a social or business place. Mostly, this law relates to lodging industries, travel and food service industries. According to Barth (263), this law helps in governing various problems arising from poor treatment in restaurants, bars, hotels, and country clubs and convention industries among others.
There are several issues that are likely to arise in management of hospitality industries. Common examples are food poisoning and destruction of properties. Fire is a common enemy in hospitality industries, and as pertaining to laws, if properties belonging to a guest are destroyed, issues of negligence are highly focused on. Hospitality managers are required to have thorough understanding of this law so as to avoid instances of guests taking them to court. The guest in a hospitality industry is always taken as supreme, and therefore, in case of a fire problem, for example, a manager can be liable to destruction of items belonging to the guest if cases of negligence are proved beyond reasonable doubt.
This paper also looks at incidences of negligence or lack of it in hospitality law. In management of industries such as lodgings and hotels, it is critical that managers take responsibilities of their areas of jurisdictions. There are several examples of managerial negligence as related to hospitality management, and falling under hospitality law. Critical in these include; fire occurrences and presence of harmful insects such as bed-bugs. Fire occurrences are most common, where, due to lack of close monitoring of things like electrical appliances, guests get their valuable items destroyed by fire.
In United States of America, hospitality law has evolved a lot and has become a specialty in learning institutions. Overview of this is in food safety and safety of premises. According to Hayes (232), a good manager of a hospitality industry understands his or her responsibilities towards his or her clients. For example, in lodging, the clear cut responsibility of the guest is to pay while the manager has to ensure that the well-being of the guest is ensured equivalent to the terms set.
Related to hospitality law is ethics of social collaboration and relations between clients and managers. A manager has his or her set rules and regulations pertaining his or her relation with the client. Essentially, this relation is bound by the terms and conditions written down in agreements between the client and the manager. According to Gibson (23), while the law on hospitality is highly limiting the manager and client on what and what not to do, ethics are generally social contracts. Their applications are not limited to what is put down on the contract.
As noted, the focus on this paper is on hospitality law as related to fire incidences in a hospitality industry. In a case where fire in lodging or a restaurant destroys items belonging to the client or customer/guest, the client can sue the management of the hospitality industry. The determination of such a case will be on whether the occurrence of the fire resulting to destruction of items of the guest was due to negligence or not. Most of the court cases related to this have argued in favor of the client. The basis of these outcomes is mostly on the fact that the destruction of the items was within the premises and management of the particular hospitality industry. However, in other cases, the courts have determined that the management was not responsible, and there was no hint of negligence on the part of the management.
There are several laws that are applicable in cases where fire destroys properties belonging to the guest. As noted, the most applicable law in this is the hospitality law, which covers the relation between the guest and the management. Other laws include the negligence law, the hotel liability law, and health and safety law. These laws have been qualified by major statutes that have been passed in the legislative arm in United States of America. Overall, the hospitality law covers major outcomes and determinations of courts in situations where the guest sues the management of a hotel or lodging in cases of destruction of his or her items.
Cloward v. Pappas, 387 P.2d 97 (Nev. 1963)
Overview of the Case
This case came about because of a fire that occurred on 14th March 1961destroying Pony Express Motel. On this date, Mr. and Mrs. Cloward, plus Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers had lodged rooms in this motel. When fire occurred, the items left in their rented rooms got destroyed. Mr. Cloward’s car which had been parked in a carport got damaged. There were also some personal injuries that were incurred as a result of this fire. In this particular case therefore, Mr. Cloward and company sought to recover the items they lost in the fire, on the premises that the premises did not belong to them, rather, they belonged to the owner. The plaintiff, Mr. Cloward and his co-plaintiff argued that the owner was solely responsible for the damages of the items. Out of the many issues presented in the court by the plaintiff, only the issue of liability appeared to have merits, and therefore the determination of the case was solely on liabilities.
The claim of loss of car was based on the concept of common law, that the innkeeper, and to extent the owner of the motel is liable as insurer of all guests that come to his or her motel. Therefore, the owner ought to take full responsibilities, including reimbursement of the items lost. In regard to personal injuries, the plaintiff sought kindred expenses incurred on the basis that the owner breached their duty of care to anybody invited to the motel as a guest.
Determination of the Case by the Court
In the determination of this particular case, the court found that the owners of the motel were not responsible and not liable for the loss and personal injuries incurred by the plaintiff in the fire. The applicable of the concept of common law was void in the facts presented in this particular case. This case has several pointers, the most salient being that social contracts between guests and owners may not cover accidental problems such as destructive fires. The issue of liability came out negative in favor of the defendant. However, most critical is also the liability of the plaintiff in this whole case of the fire destroying his properties and the personal injuries that came about. The concept of common law, which is also referred to as precedent or case law was not applicable since there was no precedent in this particular nature of the case. The plaintiff had to contend that compensation could not be given, and essentially, the defendants could not be held liable for this particular case since there was no precedence. The issue of liability entirely could not fall on the hands of the defendants, since; there was no trace or sense of negligence on their part. The following discussion looks at some of the salient facts and outcomes of this case.
Salient Facts of the Case
There are several outcomes or facts that are relevant in this particular case. The investigator in this particular case found that the most likely cause of the spread of the fire from the furnace was strong winds. Mr. and Mrs. Cloward had occupied unit 6 while Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers were in unit 7. The car was in the carport that was adjoining the motel room. The fire was investigated to have started at around 10 pm though the exact time could not be known. The furnace where it was believed was the source of the fire had been repaired. The manager did not notify the guests in the hotel about the start and progression of the fire. Instead, she was more concerned with the safety of her husband who was suffering from a heart disease. Therefore, the guests learned of the fire by themselves and tried to evacuate themselves, in haste.
The judge in this case concluded that there was no way the manager could be held liable for negligence. The negligence read in this case was on the start of the fire, and not on warning the plaintiffs about the presence and progression of the fire. In this regard therefore, since the plaintiff’s application was that there was negligence on the part of the manager, the plaintiff could not be compensated for the loss of his property and the injuries incurred by the fire.
JUNE HAMPTON DARBY, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CHECKER COMPANY, INC. et al., Defendants-Appellants.
6 Ill. App.3d 188 (1972)
285 N.E.2d 217
Overview of the Case
This case had the defendant as Checker Company, Inc plus others, while the Plaintiff was Mr. June Hampton Darby. The court judge in this case was Mr. Justice Dempsey. Checker Company owned Tivoli Hotel located in Chicago. Mr. Bernard Miller and Bernard Goldblatt, via their company, Southtown Management was in charge of the hotel. On 15th April 1962, at around 8.00 am, the fourth floor of the hotel caught fire. Mr. June Hampton was in room 403 together with Alphonso Darby, his wife. The wife tried to escape from the fire through the window, but the smoke was too much. She therefore clung to the clothes on the bed, chocked from the smoke, fell to the courtyard which was below and got permanently injured.
The plaintiff sued the management of the hotel with negligence. Particularly, the basis of her claim was that the management of the hotel operated it without enough safety measures that are supposed to be in such a building. If there were enough safety measures such as equipment, she could not have inhaled the smoke she inhaled, and consequently, she could not have become dizzy and falling down the courtyard. Therefore, she could not have got herself permanently injured. On the other hand, the defendants argued that the investigators did not prove that they were guilty of any form of negligence that led to her physical state. Essentially, they argued that the plaintiff was actually guilty of contributory negligence.
Determination of the Case
This case was determined in favor of the plaintiff. The damages that were assessed in favor of the plaintiff were $52,500. The defendants went to court seek reversal of the judgment arguing that there were some noticeable errors in the evidence presented in the court. There were also errors in the examinations as well as instructions that were given to the witnesses. A large part of the judgment in this case was on the basis that the plaintiff was not warned of the presence of the fire in the building. Also, there was argument that the managers of the hotel ought to have put enough measures that could prevent spread of the fire. Most of the people in the building, including the employees came to know of the presence of the fire in the building by opening windows and doors of their rooms, hence seeing the billowing smoke.
Salient facts of this case
The most prominent fact in this case is that the hotel did not have good safety measures such as good working fire alarms and other fire preventive gadgets. If there were, then, the alarms sounded would have warned the employees and those who had rented rooms in this hotel to move out and get to somewhere safe. There was no warning given by those responsible. For example, in room 403 where the plaintiff was residing, she came to know of the fire in the building when she felt that the room was uncomfortably warm. On opening the window, that is when she saw the fire in the nearby window.
The hotel manager as well as the switchboard operator had been given certification from the fire prevention bureau of Chicago. Pre-requisite instructions in regard to handling of fire incidences were given to them. They were to call the fire department immediately learning of the presence of the fire. Also, they were required to warn their guests and ask them to go to somewhere safe from the fire. Investigation found that neither the manager nor the switchboard operator complied with these fire regulations, therefore responsible for the damages that came as a result of the fire.
Contributory negligence as argued out by the defense was also found to have little merit. If her husband was able to get out of the building, she could also have tried to get out. Therefore, the damages she incurred in falling, according to the defense, ought not to have been compensated by the management, or categorized under negligence. Also, it was not found that things like stairways were faulty therefore she could not have used them. The determination of this case was on several grounds, but was determined under a general jury. The merits as presented in the arguments of the plaintiff were found to have more weight as opposed to the arguments given by the defense of this case. Overall, it was evident that that there were some forms of negligence, especially in ignoring pertinent issues as laid down by the fire prevention bureau in Chicago.
Evaluation of the two Fire Cases
There was clear distinction of the prevailing circumstances of the two fire cases, hence differing judgments. In the first case, the court judge found that there was no merit that the motel management was negligent of their duties to warn the guests. In the second case, it was generally found that the hotel management did not put pre-requisite measures to prevent occurrence and spread of the fire, and as well, they were negligent in warning their tenants of the presence of fire.
In any management of hospitality industry, and to extent all other industries, there are always laid-down procedures and measures that have to be followed when there is fire. The first and most critical is to have important equipment for fire prevention and putting out fire. Fire alarms are of high essence, and they are used in warning occupants that they need to get out of the building to somewhere safe. To some extent, the cases seem to have same merits of compensation, but their point of difference is on the part the management played. Most importantly, the first case was determined using the civil liability elements.
According to the civil liability of innkeepers, the owner or even the keeper of a hotel, or boarding house is not to be held liable, civilly for the loss and damages of property after July 1, 1953. The car had not been entrusted to the control of the management, and therefore, there was no way the innkeeper was supposed to know its condition, or even its whereabouts. It is the sole responsibility of the tenant to take care of his or her property. The only responsibility the innkeeper has is to make sure that there is adherence to the elements indicated in the memorandum of understanding.
In the second case, there was clear breach of safety regulations as prescribed by the fire prevention bureau of Chicago. Had the manager and the switchboard operator of the hotel timely warned the tenants of the presence of the fire, the tenants would have made efforts to station themselves somewhere safe. The damages to the body of the tenants were as a result of failure to have timely warning. All the witnesses in the fourth floor of the hotel noted that there was no prior-warning. In this regard therefore, the application of liability and negligence was right. Essentially, the judgment was based on general weighing of the issues brought from the two sides of the case.
Application of the Cases
The cases and their outcomes are highly applicable in modern law. Hospitality law gives the manager of hospitality industries responsibilities to make sure that the guests are comfortable. As noted in the first case, there are situations where the blame cannot be put on the manager. Where the manager has acted to the extent that there are no civil liabilities, he or she ought not to be held responsible. However, as from the judgment of the second case, it is clear that the manager should have prior knowledge of what to do when there are outcomes of fire. Installation of working fire equipment and adherence to the procedures and rules laid down by fire prevention bureaus are very important.
This law and the outcomes of the two cases are applicable in other instances. For example, where, the guest has properties accompanying him or her, the properties have to be put under the control of the managers, failure to which, he or she is solely responsible for the damage and loss while within the premises of the hospitality industry.