Larson v. St. Francis Hotel

District Court of Appeal of California, 1948.

83 Cal.App.2d 210, 188 P.2d 513.

Prosser, pp. 239-241


Facts: The plaintiff got beaned and knocked out by a chair on V-J day.She sued the hotel from whence the chair fell on a res ipsa loquitur theory.The trial court nonsuited her.


Issue: Does res ipsa loquitur apply in this case?


Rule: Res ipsa loquitur applies when:


1.     There was an accident.

2.     The thing that caused the accident was in the exclusive control of the defendant.

3.     The accident would not have happened in the normal course of affairs if the defendant was using ordinary care.


Analysis: The court finds that a hotel does not have exclusive control of its furniture, windows, rooms, and guests.Instead, the court finds that it is foreseeable that such an event could happen due to no fault on the part of the hotel.The court makes a policy argument that hotels should not be required to post a guard in every room to watch over the furniture.


(On the other hand, maybe the hotels should not be allowed to have windows that open.)


Conclusion: The trial courtís judgment is affirmed.


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