Hotels, just like any form of private property, owe a duty to the public to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner. This can include taking necessary measures to prevent foreseeable criminal attacks on guests. Hotels are meant to be a safe home away from home. The last thing you expect when staying in a hotel is to be the victim of a horrific crime, including assault or rape.
Sadly, that is precisely what happened to a Southern California woman who was staying at a Holiday Inn in Frazier Park, California. One night, she was sexually assaulted in her hotel room. She later sued the hotel for inadequate security measures, claiming that the hotel was negligent and did not properly provide for her safety. According to the lawsuit, the woman was sexually assaulted after a hotel employee negligently gave her room keys to a sexual predator. According to reports, the woman was staying at the Holiday Inn with her boyfriend, who was not in the room at the time of the crime. Video surveillance shows the attacker, later identified as Jonathan Padilla, speaking with the hotel receptionist at the front desk. Padilla is accused of being heavily intoxicated and under the influence of drugs.
The lawsuit further alleges that Padilla offered the receptionist $100 in exchange for sexual favors but was turned down. Footage shows Padilla leaving the front desk, only to return moments later requesting keys to his room. In reality, the keys Padilla requested were for the victim’s room. Not only did the receptionist fail to verify the occupants of the room, she failed to even ask Padilla his name. Instead, the keys were turned over and the perpetrator was allowed to permanently traumatize an innocent woman. He was later convicted of the crime in criminal court and sentenced to three years in jail.
Proving an Inadequate Security Case in Tennessee
The negligence alleged against the hotel in this case is scary for most people. Generally, in negligent or inadequate security cases, a property owner has to provide reasonable measures to prevent against foreseeable criminal acts. In order to determine whether or not a criminal act is foreseeable, Courts and lawyers look to the history of crime committed on the property. If there is a record of crimes similar in nature to the one alleged in the victim’s complaint, it may be more likely than not that the attack on the plaintiff was foreseeable and preventative steps should have been taken by the owner. Many hotel and motel accident cases involve a balancing act in order to prove liability.
A problem occurs when a plaintiff sues a property owner under a theory of inadequate security when few similar attacks have occurred on the property. In those circumstances, the characteristics of the area in which the property is located can be relevant. For example, was the property located in the middle of a high crime area? Crime statistics from the local police department can be critical in showing patterns of criminal activities on or adjacent to the property in question.
Discuss Your Case with a Memphis Inadequate Security Attorney
When property owners act carelessly, either through their employees or on their own, they may bear responsibility when a patron is attacked by someone else on the property. Most inadequate security cases require testimony from an expert witness with sufficient experience in the security industry. Call the personal injury attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz to discuss your claim today with one of our Tennessee inadequate security attorneys.