Recent Tennessee Case Further Defines Premises Liability for Hotel Owners and Operators

Posted in Negligence on March 10, 2014

In Nashville, land owners owe a duty to those they invite onto their land. This applies throughout Tennessee to both to house guests, customers, and even to trespassers in some situations. In a recent opinion by a Tennessee court of appeals, the court took the opportunity to elaborate on and explain in detail the duty that a hotel owner has to hotel guests.

Parker v. Holiday Hospitality Franchising, Inc.

In the case Parker v. Holiday Hospitality Franchising, Inc., Parker was a paraplegic guest at the hotel who requested a handicap-friendly room. Initially, the room Parker was given did not have the bench in the shower properly secured to the wall, so Parker called hotel management and requested it be fixed. Hotel management had an independent contractor on site who made the repair. Parker and his wife then left for dinner and, upon returning, were told that the bench had been repaired. The next morning, Parker was using the bench in the shower when it came unattached from the wall, causing Parker to fall to the floor. Parker suffered serious injuries for which he sued the owners and operators of the hotel.

Applying the Law of Premises Liability in Tennessee

The court begins its discussion of the case by noting that, in Tennessee premises liability cases a plaintiff must prove the elements of negligence, which are:

  • (1) a duty of care owed by the defendant to plaintiff;
  • (2) conduct by the defendant falling below the standard of care amounting to a breach of that duty;
  • (3) an injury or loss;
  • (4) causation in fact; and
  • (5) proximate or legal cause.

The specific question presented in this case was whether the hotel owner had a duty to warn Parker about the potentially dangerous situation.

The hotel owner argued that he was not responsible for Parker’s injuries because he had no idea that the shower bench was defective, and that it was the independent contractor’s fault that the bench was shoddily repaired.

In Tennessee, there is an additional requirement that the plaintiff prove that “(1) the condition was caused or created by the owner, operator, or his agent, or (2) if the condition was created by someone other than the owner, operator, or his agent, that the owner had actual or constructive notice that the condition existed prior to the accident.” In other words, the dangerous situation must be created by the landowner, or the landowner must have knowledge of its existence.

The court determined that, because the room was a handicap-friendly room, that had been rented many times over the four years since the hotel had been open, the owner had constructive knowledge that a shower bench could be dangerous to his guests. Because the owner had constructive knowledge, he had a duty to inspect the shower bench, which he did not do. Therefore, the Parker’s case should proceed to trial where a jury can decide if the remaining elements of negligence are met.

Are You Considering Filing a Tennessee Personal Injury Claim?

If you are considering filing a personal injury claim in Clarksvilles, Nashville, or surrounding areas in Tennessee, make sure you have the assistance of a skilled and dedicated personal injury attorney. Attorney Matt Hardin has the experience and dedication you need to effectively bring your Tennessee personal injury claim. Click here, or call 615-200-1111 to schedule a free initial consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:

Honda Bike and ATV Safety Questioned, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published November 1, 2012.

Meningitis Outbreak: Ten Deaths in Tennessee, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published October 25, 2012.