Hotels have an affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety and security of their patrons. This obligation may include the duty to evict or otherwise restrain drunken or disorderly guests or patrons who may possibly cause harm to other guests or their property. However, the hotel also has a duty not to cause foreseeable injury or harm to the drunken or disorderly guest as a result of the eviction. Under those circumstances, hotels must seek more reasonable alternatives, such as contacting police and arranging safe transport of the drunken or disorderly guest or escorting the person back to his/her room (if this can be done safely without the risk of recurring problems).
A major area of liability exposure is in the serving of alcohol to guests and non-guests. If the hotel actually creates the risk of harm by serving alcohol to an already-intoxicated person, other laws come into play, most notably, state “dram-shop” acts. These laws generally provide that persons injured by intoxicated persons may sue the seller/provider of the alcohol (in this case, the hotel). Hotels can also lose their liquor licenses for serving minors, and, in many states, can be sued for a subsequent drunken driving accident caused by the minor.
Hotels also may be liable for the personal injury of guests caused by the criminal act of another patron or guest, if it can be established that the hotel was negligent or at fault. Criminal acts of other patrons do not always fall into the category of foreseeable risks that hotels can protect against. Nonetheless, in assessing potential fault of the hotel, several factors will be considered. Was the injury or harm reasonably preventable? Who was in charge of security? Were security personnel properly trained? Is there a past history of crime at the hotel? Were assessments of security risks ever established for the hotel? Were security personnel uniformed? Were there an adequate number of security persons on hand to handle routine matters as well as potential emergencies or crises?