Torts I, Page 260–261

Larson v. St. Francis Hotel

District Court of Appeal of California, 1948

Facts:

Plaintiff was exiting out of defendant's hotel while people were celebrating V-J day. Plaintiff was struck by a chair that fell out of the hotel. The people who threw the chair out of the window could not be found.

Procedural History:

Trial court found nonsuit for defendant.

Issue:

Is a hotel liable for what guests do with the hotel's furniture under res ipsa loquitar?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Defendant is liable under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitar.

Rule:

Plaintiff must prove:

  1. That there was an accident
  2. That the thing or instrumentality which caused the accident was at the time of and prior thereto under the exclusive control and management of the defendant
  3. That the accident was such that in the ordinary course of events, the defendant using ordinary care, the accident would not have happened

Reasoning:

A hotel does not have exclusive control, either actual or potential, of its furniture. To stop guests from doing such would require well beyond ordinary care.

Holding:

No, as its guests have partial control, the hotel does not have the required exclusive control. Affirmed.

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