Lackore v. Ocean Walk II – $700k Award for Hotel Guest Injury

Florida is a destination state for people from all over the world. And when they come here, they have a reasonable expectation the place where they stay will be safe. hotel1

Common law in Florida holds property owners and operators have a duty to protect guests. That means there will be adequate security, the structure won’t have any latent defects, spills and tripping hazards will be promptly addressed, pool safety laws will be observed, proper lighting will be installed and fixtures within individual rooms won’t pose an undue risk of injury.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and people do suffer terrible and sometimes lasting injuries while visiting this state. Whether a hotel can be held legally liable to cover those injuries depends heavily on the individual facts of each case.

In the recent case of Lackore v. Ocean Walk II Vacation Condominium Association, a former guest of a hotel in Daytona Beach was injured after a television inside her hotel room toppled onto her.

According to news reports of the case, the incident occurred in May 2011. As the woman was trying to readjust the entertainment center, it fell on top of her. This resulted in painful injuries to her back and right foot.

She later sued the hotel for premises liability, alleging hotel operators should have properly secured the equipment so that it would not have fallen.

At trial, defendant hotel argued plaintiff was contributorily negligent because she failed to use proper care when adjusting the television set.

The jury partially agreed, but still found the hotel to be 60 percent negligent. Because Florida adheres to pure comparative fault model, negligence on the part of the plaintiff – in any capacity – will not bar a claim altogether, as would be the case in some states. However, it does proportionately diminish the total amount of damages to which that person is entitled. So in this case, plaintiff’s award was reduced by 40 percent, which was determined to be her percentage of fault. She will still receive $700,000 from the hotel, assuming there are no appeals.

Falling objects are just one potential hazard guests may face while visiting a hotel.

Others might include slip-and-falls on slick walking surfaces, falls from defective balconies or stairwells or negligent security (in order to avoid foreseeable criminal attacks).

Hotel owners have a duty to inspect the property routinely and to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition. If dangerous conditions are discovered, staffers have to take affirmative steps in order to protect guests from those dangers and also to warn them of risks in the meantime. They also need to maintain a proper level of security and exercise reasonable care by making sure they hire an adequate level of staff, and by making sure locks on individual guest rooms are functional and adequate.

If negligence resulting in injury was a result of an action by a hotel employee, the hotel can still be liable, even if it had no control over that action and wasn’t aware of it. This kind of action is based on the theory of vicarious liability, and allows employers to be held responsible for the actions of workers acting in the scope of employment.

If you have suffered a Florida hotel injury, contact our experienced legal team today.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Woman Awarded Nearly $700K After TV Set Falls on Her, March 18, 2015, Daily Business Review

More Blog Entries:

Kmart Corp. v. Footstar, Inc. – Businesses Battle Over Liability for Injury Lawsuit, Feb. 23, 2015, Premises Liability Lawsuit