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Raped at the Holiday Inn Chicago Skokie: Is the hotel liable?

Raped at the Holiday Inn Chicago Skokie: Is the hotel liable?

In this week’s travel law article, we examine the case of Gress v. Lakhani Hospitality, Inc., an Illinois Corporation, d/b/a Holiday Inn Chicago Skokie, No. 1-17-0380 (Ill. App. 2018) wherein “On the evening of October 2, 2013, Karla Gress was a guest at the Holiday Inn Chicago-Skokie (Skokie Holiday Inn) which was owned and/or managed by defendant Lakhani Hospitality, Inc. (LHI) and Mansoor Lakhani (Lakhani). After eating dinner and consuming an alcoholic beverage in the hotel restaurant, Karla went to her room where she was subsequently raped while unconscious, allegedly by the hotel security guard who also did some maintenance work at the hotel. Karla and her husband brought a premises liability action against LHI; Lakhani; hotel Director of Operations Sheila Gilani; and the LHI franchisors, Intercontinental Hotels Group Operating Corporation (Intercontinental)…As to the alleged offender, Alhagie Singhateh, plaintiffs claimed that he committed assault and battery, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and gender violence. Plaintiffs also sued Intercontinental and Hostmark Hospitality Group, Inc., for negligently hiring and retaining Singhateh (for failing) to discover his arrest for soliciting a prostitute…we reverse and remand the dismissal of the premises liability counts…We agree with plaintiffs, finding that they adequately pleaded the existence of a special relationship duty of care between LHI and its employees as the innkeeper and Karla as the guest…we find that plaintiffs adequately alleged that Singhateh’s sexual assault was reasonably foreseeable”.

Terror Targets Update

Shoot Out At Trader Joe’s

In Nagourney & Mervosh, Dozens of Hostages Freed From Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles; 1 Woman Is Dead, nytimes (7/21/2018) it was noted that “One person was killed at a Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles on Saturday, when an armed shooting suspect exchanged gunfire with the police, ran into the store and barricaded himself with hostages for about three hours before surrendering…The victim, a young woman, was fatally shot inside the store…It was unclear whether she was killed by the gunmen or in the crossfire with the police”.

Killing Over A Parking Space

In Jacobs, Florida Sheriff Cites ‘Stand Your Ground’ in Not Arresting Shooter in Parking Lot Killing, nytimes (7/21/2018) it was noted that “A man who shot and killed another man in Florida this week during an argument over a parking space will not be arrested or charged by the sheriff’s office because of the state’s so-called Stand Your Ground law…which removes the obligation to retreat if a person feels threatened and frees the person to use deadly force ‘if he or she reasonably believes’ it is necessary ‘to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm’”.

America: Daily Gun Violence

In The Editorial Board, The Everyday Toll of Gun Violence In America, nytimes (6/10/2018) it was noted that “In the two years since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., there have been at least 700 mass shootings-defined as involving four or more victims-across the United States. Yet mass shootings represent just a fraction of the nation’s gun violence. On an average day, 96 Americans die by firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About two in every three of those are suicides”.

Tunisia: UK Foreign Office Update

In The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for Brits heading to Tunisia, travelwirenews (6/14/2018) it was noted that Tunisia shares “a border with Libya which has been in turmoil since the fall of Gaddafi…Tunisia has had its share of internal issues including the horrific terrorist attack in Sousse in June 2015. During the attack 38 tourists were killed…The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has now issued an update to its travel advice…”There have been changes to some areas in southern and western Tunisia where the FCO advices against all but essential travel. ‘The FCO no longer advise against all but essential travel to the town of Jendouba and some areas of southern Tunisia, including the town of Medenine, Tataouine and Douz’”.

Travel Update: Gang-Rapes Are In Season

Russian Tourist Gang-Raped In India

In Russian tourist drugged and gang-raped in India, travelwirenews (7/20/2018) it was noted that “Indian police were holding six men on Thursday after a Russian tourist was allegedly drugged and gang-raped in a popular southern tourist town, officials said. Media reports said the 21-year-old had bite marks on her face and arms when she was found naked and unconscious on the floor of her hostel room, early on Monday”. Please, stay away from India.

British Tourist Gang-Raped In Ibiza

In Four British tourists arrested in Ibiza over ‘gang-rape’ of 29-year-old woman, travelwirenews (7/21/2018) it was noted that “Four British holidaymakers have been arrested in the Ibizan holiday resorts of San Antonio on suspicion of gang-raping another tourist. Civil Guard officers held the men after a 29-year-old Brit claimed she was sexually attacked at apartments after being fed two pills by one of the suspects when she fell ill…Two Charlton footballers are still under investigation over the alleged Ibiza hotel rape of a 19-year-old British holidaymaker last month”. Stay away from Ibiza, please.

13 Tourists Dead Near Branson, Missouri

In Fortin, Jacobs & Stevens, 13 Dead After Duck Boat Capsizes Near Branson, Mo., nytimes (7/19/2018) it was noted that “At least 13 people were killed Thursday night when a tourist boat capsized in a southern Missouri lake as powerful thunderstorms passed through the Midwest…The amphibious boat, or duck boat, overturned in Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., around 7 p.m. as winds exceeded 60 m.p.h.”.

Congo’s Virunga National Park Closes

In Sims, After Violence, Congo’s Virunga National Park Closes for the Year, nytimes (6/14/2018) it was noted that “On the morning of May 11, Rachel Masika Baraka, a park ranger, (accompanied) two British tourists (and) hoped to spot Virunga’s famed mountain gorillas amid dense jungle vegetation. Before the day was done, Ms. Baraka had been murdered and the British tourists and their driver kidnapped, victims of the deadly regional violence that has increasingly crept into the park. Although the three were released two days after the kidnapping, park authorities announced that Virunga National Park…would be closed to tourists until 2019″.

India’s Mountains Of Garbage

In Kumar & Schultz, ‘The Dump Killed My Son’: Mountains of Garbage Engulf India’s Capital, nytimes (6/10/2018) it was noted that “In the metropolitan area of Delhi, which includes the capital New Delhi, trash heaps are towering monuments to India’s growing waste crisis. About 80 billion pounds of trash have accumulated at four official dumping sites, on the fringes of a capital already besieged by polluted air and toxic water…The dumps in Delhi and in cities such as Mumbai and Kolkata have become some of the largest, least regulated and most hazardous in the world”

Uber Drivers Are Employees In New York State

In NYTWA Wins Historic Legal Decision! Let’s Build on our Victory in Court with a Victory at City Council, nytwa (7/20/2018) it was noted that “The New York State unemployment insurance Appeal Board just ruled that three of our members-and all other drivers treated like them by Uber-are employees with a right to Unemployment. Drivers now have some security when we get deactivated or if we leave the job because can’t make enough to cover expenses or earn less than Minimum Wage”.

Hawaiian Tourism Erupted

In Sims, Hawaii Eruptions Continue to Disrupt Tourism During Prime Summer Months, nytimes (7/20/2018) it was noted that “No one expects a lava bomb to come crashing down on them. But that’s just what a group of tourists experienced earlier this week, when the lava rolling into the sea at the base of Mount Kilauea burst, blasting a hot rock ‘bomb’ into the air and through the metal roof of their tour boat in what locals are calling a ‘freak’ accident-the latest example of the headline out of Hawaii that are deterring tourists from spending their summer holiday on the Big Island”.

Frequent Flier Mile Programs Explained

In Peterson, Breaking Down the Frequent Flier Mile Programs, nytimes (6/12/2018) it was noted that “Frequent flier programs can help, landing travelers who spend a lot of time in the air free drinks and snacks, the occasional upgrade and miles to redeem for flights. But negotiating the world of airline rewards can be onerous. Ever-changing rules, low reward-flight availability and depreciating or disappearing flight charts can make it tricky to get the most of these programs. Here’s a basic rundown of some of the more popular ones, and what you can expect from them. Even if you’re not sure you’re going to be flying s lot…I recommend signing up for an airline-specific frequent flier program”. The frequent flier programs of Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest are reviewed.

International Toilet Awards 2018

In The 2018 International Toilet Tourism Award Winners Announced, travelwirenews (6/13/2018) it was noted that “Six toilets popular with tourists around the world have officially been crowned and are ascending their thrones for 2018. Winners include a James Bond themed loo on a mountain top, a toilet that makes you feel you’re in a forest and an airport where guide dogs can poop indoors in comfort…The International Toilet Tourism Awards, now in their second year, were created by MyTravelResearch, which aims to show the close link between innovative, clean toilets with great design and a successful local tourism economy-the trickle-down effect”.

Malta’s Diving Trail

In Explore Malta and Gozo’s sea with a new dive trail, travelwirenews (6/13/2018) it was noted that “Malta Tourism Authority launches a new Diving Trail around the Maltese Archipelago. Repeatedly voted second best dive destination in the world, the Mediterranean Islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino offer clear blue sea boasting an abundance of reefs, stunning caverns, caves and wrecks”. Enjoy.

GO-JEK In Jakarta, Indonesia

In Coupez, Sharing economy: a drive to success, The case of GO-JEK in Jakarta, Indonesia, dial/uclouvain.be (6/14/2018) it was noted that “This master thesis analyses the development of (the sharing economy) and focuses on the unexpected success of the Indonesian start-up GO-JEK in Jakarta. In fact, since its launch in 2015, GO-JEK has expanded its range of services, beating its international competition Uber and Grab, and has become the first Indonesian unicorn (start-up valued at over US$1 billion)”.

Grenfell Tower Fire: One Year Later

In Freytas-Tamura, A Year After Grenfell Tower Fire, Pain and Anger Still Resonate, nytimes (6/13/2018) it was noted that “The Grenfell blaze, in the early hours of June 14 last year, came to symbolize inequality in one of London’s wealthiest areas, Kensington and Chelsea, where those of more modest means had long felt treated as second-class citizens. Residents of the 24-story public housing block had complained for years that it was a catastrophe waiting to happen…The building lacked sprinklers and fire alarms that worked and had only a single narrow staircase to escape a fire. Its aluminum cladding…proved so flammable that it turned the tower into a ‘death trap’”.

12 Minutes To Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

In Boseman & Smith, Chicago Says Elon Musk’s Boring Company to Build High-Speed Link to O’Hare, nytimes (6/13/2018) it was noted that “There are standard, rage-inducing ways to reach O’Hare International Airport from downtown Chicago. You can ride the L., a sluggish crawl of a train…or you can attempt driving on the expressway. Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, and Elon Musk…say they have concocted a dreamy alterative…An unimaginably zippy ride…in electric vehicles that will travel through new underground tunnels…each electric vehicle-called a ‘skate’-would transport up to 16 riders and their luggage…They would exceed 100 miles per hour and make the entire trip downtown to O’Hare in 12 minutes”. Dream on.

Hero Raccoon To The Moon

In Haag & Caron, Daredevil Raccoon Climbs Minnesota Skyscraper and Becomes a Sensation, nytimes (6/13/2018) it was noted that “At first, it looked so defeated: Its head buried between its paws and its body curled up on a ledge 20 feet above the street in downtown St. Paul. But this was a raccoon, after all-part of a deceptive and unpredictable family of nocturnal mammals whose panda-like looks lull humans into forgetting they can carry multiple diseases…The raccoon… jolted from the recess of the building, dug its long fingernails into the tan exterior…It started to climb and climb and climb”. Bravo. travelwirenews

Alligator Delays Spirit Airlines Flight

In Spirit Airlines flight delayed by alligator wandering Orlando Airport runway, travelwirenews (6/12/2018) it was noted that “Airline passengers onboard Spirit Airlines jet landing in central Florida were reportedly delayed by a brazen alligator, who was observed crossing the runway at Orlando International Airport”.

Endangered Species May Be Endangered

In Friedman, Pierre-Louis & Alback-Ripka, Interior Department Proposed a Vast Reworking of the Endangered Species Act, nytimes (7/19/2018) it was noted that “The Interior Department on Thursday proposed the most sweeping set of changes in decades to the Endangered Species Act, the law that brought the bald eagle and the Yellowstone grizzly bear back from the edge of extinction, but which Republicans say is cumbersome and restricts economic development. The proposed revisions have far-reaching implications, potentially making it easier for roads, pipelines and other construction projects to gain approvals than under current rules. One change, for instance, would eliminate longstanding language that prohibits considering economic factors when deciding whether or not a species should be protected”.

Be Careful Driving In Maine

In Crashes kill 8 in a week as dangerous travel season starts, travelwirenews (6/13/2018) it was noted that “A spate of deadly crashes, including one that killed four people, has marked the start of the busiest and most dangerous time of the year on Maine roadways. The Portland Press Herald reports that eight people have died in wrecks in the span of one week, starting June 5 with a head-on crash in Casco that killed a mother and daughter. On Saturday, four people, including a 7-year-old boy, died in a crash in Berwick…Last year, 159 people were killed on Maine roadways, the highest number since 2007. So far this year, 53 people have died”.

Local Food Festivals

In Vora, Five Getaways with Local Food Festivals that are Worth the trip, nytimes (6/13/2018) it was noted that “Some hotels try to create buzz by opening restaurants with high-profile chefs. Lately, however, a growing number of properties want to offer more, and are throwing entire food festivals instead…In April…the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., hosted Nirvana, a food and wine festival with notable chefs…Here are a few more to look forward to. Local Chefs and Cuisine in Italy. The Hotel Reina Isabella in Ischia (Nov. 1-4)…Three Festivals to Choose From in St. Lucia. The Anse Chastanet resort in St. Lucia has three food festivals planned this year…An Island Food Festival Getaway in Hawaii. From Sept. 17 to 20, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii will host a Chef Fest…Southern Food and Hospitality in Georgia. The food festival at Sea Island resort in Georgia is called Southern Grown…Celebrity Chefs and Great Eats in Atlantic City Borgata Hotel and Casino & Spa…will host its 11th annual Savor Borgata (including celebrity chefs) Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Geoffrey Zakarian”. Enjoy.

Top Ten International Tourist Destinations

In What are top ten cities to go in the World, travelwirenews (6/13/2018) it was noted that “According to the latest Global Destination Cities index, the international destinations with the highest concentration of visitors traveling for relaxation and leisure (are) (1) Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, (2) Cusco, Peru, (3) Djerba, Tunisia, (4) Riviera Maya, Mexico, (5) Palma de Mallora, Spain, (6) Cancun, Mexico, (7) Bali, Indonesia, (8) Panama City, Panama, (9) Orlando, Florida, (1) Phuket, Thailand”.

Trump Hotel Profits Questioned

In LaFraniere, Judge in Emoluments Case Questions Defense of Trumps’ Hotel Profits, nytimes (6/11/2018) it was noted that “A federal judge on Monday sharply criticized the Justice Department’s argument that President Trump’s financial interest in his company’s hotel in downtown Washington is constitutional, a fresh sign that the judge may soon rule against the president in a historic case that could head to the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland, charge that Mr. Trump’s profits from the hotel violate anti-corruption clauses of the Constitution that restrict government-bestowed financial benefits, or emoluments, to presidents beyond their official salary. They say the hotel is siphoning business from local convention centers and hotels”.

Expedia’s Add-On Advantage

In Expedia throws a wrinkle into travel packages, travelwirenews (6/12/2018) it was noted that “Saying that 46% of U.S. travelers prefer to book their flight and hotel separately, Expedia will enable customers to book discounted hotels after they purchase their airfare on Expedia. Expedia on Wednesday will introduce Expedia Add-On Advantage, enabling customers to essentially create a travel package without having to buy the components at the same time. The hotel can be booked any time before the trip begins”.

Bye, Bye UK Travel Agents

In Almost 700 travel agents went out of business in the UK last year, travelwirenews (6/12/2018) it was noted that OTAs give travelers convenience and value for money…The shift to digital continues relentlessly, almost 700 high street travel agents closed their shutters in the UK last year, due to stiff competition with online rivals, according to a new report from the Local Data Company (LDC). LDC’s retail and leisure trends report found that 679 travel agency outlets closed in 2017 accounting for the third highest number of business closures among the high street sector operators. Pubs saw the biggest decline with 747 outlets shutting their doors, followed closely by banks which close 711 branches”.

Guatemala Volcano Tourism

In Tourism at a Guatemala volcano, travelwirenews (6/12/2018) it was noted that “Tourists reached out to feel the heat from the still-smoldering lava, tossed sticks to see them burst into flames or watched a guide toast marshmallows on hot rocks as they hiked on Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano, which days earlier had spewed lava. From the peak of Pacaya they had a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, which erupted June 3, emitting a fast-moving avalanche of super-heated muck that killed 110 people and left about 200 missing”.”.

Air Ambulances Very Expensive, Indeed

In Tozzi, Air ambulances are flying more patients than ever and leaving massive bills behind, msn (6/11/2018) it was noted that “The U.S. air-ambulance fleet doubled in size in the past 15 years to nearly 900 helicopters making 300,000 flights annually…Favorable treatment under federal law means air-ambulance companies, unlike their counterparts on the ground, have few restrictions on what they can charge for their services. Through a quirk of the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act, air-ambulance operators are considered air carriers…and states have no power to put in place their own curbs. Prices for emergency medical flights have increased dramatically…The median charge to Medicare for a medical helicopter flight more than doubled to almost $30,000 in 2014, from $14,000 in 2010…Air Method’s average charge ballooned, from $13,000 in 2007 to $49,800 in 2016, the GAO said”.

UK Airports & Hidden Disabilities

In How airports are improving travel for flies with hidden disabilities, travelwirenews (6/12/2018) it was noted that “UK airports are making progress when it comes to helping passengers with hidden disabilities, according to a new report published by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today. Hidden disabilities can include autism, dementia and hearing loss and many other conditions that are not immediately obvious…Services being developed…include” (1) Giving passengers the option to wear a lanyard or wristband, (2) Providing enhanced disability awareness training, (3) Introducing family or assistance security lanes…The CAA will continue to work with airports”.

Travel Law Case Of The Week

In the Gress case, the Court noted “Singhateh was hired as a security guard…the following operative facts are taken directly from plaintiffs’ complaint. Karla alleged that she was a guest at the Skokie Holiday Inn and that she had a drink at the hotel’s Bar Louie restaurant/lounge. During that time, she alleged that, unbeknownst to her, Singhateh placed a narcotic substance in her drink. Singhateh, as a hotel security guard, had a key to Karla’s room. On the evening in question, Singhateh was directed by another KHI employee to enter Karla’s room alone, allegedly in order to repair a faulty air conditioner unit, even though LHI had been advised that Karla was intoxicated. The limited key cards records show that a ‘duplicate key’ was used to access Karla’s room at 9:40 p.m. Once there, Singhateh raped Karla while she was unconscious. When Karla awoke, she realized that she had been sexually assaulted. A rape kit was taken the next morning at a nearby hospital, and police matched fluid to Singhateh’s DNA at a subsequent date. Meanwhile…Singhateh continued to work for LHI for several years after this occurrence”.

Unseemly Conduct At The Hotel

“Plaintiffs’ complaint made numerous allegations about unseemly conduct by Singhateh and others at the Skokie Holiday Inn. Plaintiffs alleged that Singhateh had previously been arrested for solicitation of prostitution after offering an undercover police officer $10 for sexual relations….According to plaintiffs, prior to the incident in this case, several named LHI guests filed police reports of stolen property from their rooms, with the key card history of one guest showing that only LHI employees had accessed his room. Plaintiffs also alleged that employees often brought women into the hotel and gave them alcoholic beverages and fraternized with them in a hotel room. Prostitutes were alleged to have frequented the hotel and were served alcohol at the bar. These hotel employees also disabled surveillance cameras, presumably for improper purposes”.

Other Sexual Assaults

“In April 2011, an unnamed guest called the police department reporting a sexual assault (this allegation lacked further details). In December 2013, just two months after Karla’s rape, another unnamed LHI guest allegedly had several drinks at the bar, then was approached by two males, only to later awake in her hotel room naked, and although she did not remember certain portions of the evening, she recalled one male on top of her having intercourse. She reported this rape to the Skokie police”.

Premises Liability Against LHI

“Plaintiffs first contend that they alleged sufficient facts to establish premises liability negligence in that defendants…(1) failed to ensure the safety of their guests generally and also via policy and procedure, (2) improperly gave Singhateh a key to Karla’s room and instructed him to fix the air conditioner despite being informed that she was demonstrably intoxicated, (3) failed to perform background checks on their employees, (4) failed to provide adequate security personnel and security cameras and (5) failed to keep track of the rooms’ key cards”.

A Special Relationship

“Plaintiffs contend that they adequately pleaded the existence of a special relationship between the hotel and Karla, such that the hotel had a duty to protect her against the criminal actions of a third party, including the hotel’s own employee. While generally speaking, the owner or possessor of property does not owe a duty to protect invitees from the criminal acts of third parties, however, a notable exception to this is if a special relationship exists between the parties, such as, in this case, an innkeeper and its guests, a common carrier and its passengers, a voluntary custodian, or a business inviter and invitee”….Courts have historically held that a hotel or common carrier, for example, must exercise the ‘highest degree of care’ which we interpret simply as another way of expressing the existence of a special relationship…These special relationships give rise to an affirmative duty to air or protect another against an ‘unreasonable risk of physical harm’…The key to imposing a duty based on a special relationship is that the defendant’s relationship with either the tortfeasor or the plaintiff ‘places the defendant in the best position to protect against the risk of harm’”.

Foreseeability

“Whether the rape in this case could have been reasonably anticipated by LHI and its employees, and was thus foreseeable, forms the crux of the (appeal)…Plaintiffs assert that defendants created a ‘dangerous condition’ by allowing Singhateh unfettered access to Karla’s room while she was intoxicated… especially given Singhateh’s background in the hotel’s licentious atmosphere…at this early stage of the proceedings, foreseeability…was satisfied by conferring on the parties their special relationship of hotel-guest…Given the pervasiveness pf sexual assaults and generalized crimes in hotels, it is reasonably foreseeable that hotel guests will from time to time be at such risk in hotels”.

“One Free Rape Rule” Rejected

“We likewise decline to impose the equivalent of a ‘one free rape rule’ since there is simply no requirement under Illinois law that an innkeeper be on notice of a prior sexual assault before any duty to protect would arise for a third-party attack of that nature…If we were to impose such a ‘notice’ rule, it would produce the inimical result of the first sexual assault victim lacking a civil claim, while allowing the next victim (like the one allegedly so assaulted two months later in defendants’ hotel while Singhateh was still employed) to receive justice because defendants had notice of the prior rape…Any such ruling would lead to arbitrary results and would surely be against public policy”.

Conclusion

“All of the preceding cases of rape, battery, assault and murder clearly have many factual variables, but the facts of this case tell an all-too-familiar tale where a vulnerable woman is raped, and the assault is enabled by the failure of a responsible party to protect the victim. Plaintiffs deserve the opportunity to expand on their story beyond the pleading stage and the trial court erred in dismissing the counts of plaintiffs’ complaint against the owner, operator and manager of the hotel and its involved employees”.

The author, Thomas A. Dickerson, is a retired Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department of the New York State Supreme Court and has been writing about Travel Law for 42 years including his annually updated law books, Travel Law, Law Journal Press (2018), Litigating International Torts in U.S. Courts, Thomson Reuters WestLaw (2018), Class Actions: The Law of 50 States, Law Journal Press (2018) and over 500 legal articles. For additional travel law news and developments, especially, in the member states of the EU see IFTTA.org.

This article may not be reproduced without the permission of Thomas A. Dickerson.

Read many of Justice Dickerson’s articles here.

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