Court rules that Dauphine Orleans Hotel failed to provide 'high degree of care' leading to guest's fall

By Charmaine Little | May 13, 2019

U.S. District Court Judge Eldon F. Fallon   Wikipedia

NEW ORLEANS – A patron at a New Orleans hotel was owed a certain level of duty from the inn prior to his accidental fall, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled on April 9.

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon ruled on the case.

Kevin Phetteplace sued 415 Rue Dauphine LLC after saying he was injured while staying at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. Phetteplace was at the hotel taking part in a pre-wedding celebration when he went to his room around 1 a.m. in early April 2017. He insists he was not intoxicated to the point of functional impairment. 

Three hours later, he said he opened a door he thought was the bathroom but instead was a railing and fell to the ground. He said hotel staff took him back to his room before his sister transported him to Tulane Medical Center.

He sued the defendant for negligence and failure to keep its property safe while claiming he suffered a shattered wrist, which required surgery, and a broken foot. He asked the court to grant him damages for his physical and emotional injuries as well as pain, suffering, reduction in enjoyment of life, loss of earnings, disability and decline in earning ability. The defendants said Phetteplace did not properly state a cause of action as they denied taking part in negligence.

The court looked at several previous cases, including one from the Supreme Court, to assist in its ruling that “an innkeeper owes its patrons a heightened duty of care while in their hotel rooms. Accordingly, in this case, the applicable standard of care defendants owed plaintiff was a heightened one.”

One of the cases the court observed was the Louisiana Supreme Court case, Kraaz v. LaQuinta Motor Inns Inc. In that case, the Supreme Court determined that the “delictual liability of an innkeeper for an employee’s negligence which is a substantial factor in the armed robbery of a guest,” said the court. 

The cases may be completely different, but the idea that the Supreme Court determined an innkeeper is responsible for a “high degree of care and protection” was relevant to this case.

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