SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California judge has denied Holiday Inn’s request to dismiss a complaint filed on behalf of a rape victim claiming damages for an incident that occurred at the hotel after the receptionist allegedly gave a room key to the perpetrator without asking for proper identification.
The complaint alleged that the perpetrator impersonated the victim’s boyfriend and asked for a key to the room he said he was sharing with her. The receptionist gave a key to the man and later testified she was not trained to obtain identification for replacement keys. The lawsuit noted that the man was intoxicated and also offered the receptionist money in exchange for sex.
“It is a legal task to determine whether or not the hotel was negligent and whether or not the end result of their negligence was foreseeable,” John Doherty of the Civil Justice Association of California told the Northern California Record. “I think that’s ultimately what the case is about.”
The argument of whether the actions of the hotel were foreseeable will be key in arguments on both sides of the case. Holiday Inn has claimed it is not at fault because it was the criminal actions were not foreseeable; yet in deposition, the receptionist and manager stated rape could result in a room key being given to someone not properly identified.
“Extending civil liability in this case will require finding that there was both negligence and that it was foreseeable that something this terrible would happen,” Doherty said.
The perpetrator, who was caught on video surveillance leaving the victim’s hotel room partially unclothed, was sentenced to three years is after his conviction of the rape.
“There is some concern that the horrible, despicable, criminal act is civilly being transferred and blamed to the hotel whose actions — while people can argue about how they should have done that or handled the situation — they clearly were not trying or looking to enable criminal activity,” Doherty said.
The judge denied the dismissal request stating that the claims for damages by the plaintiff were warranted based on the actions of the hotel. The case is set to go to trial April 18.