South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Innkeepers’ Act Holds Hotel Harmless for Thefts from Guests Rooms
Description Appeals court held that a hotel cannot be sued for the loss of valuables taken from a guest’s room while the guest was sleeping even though the hotel issued a key to an unknown person during the night. The Innkeepers’ Act states that hotels are not liable for stolen valuables.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Negligence; Theft; Innkeeper Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Powers was staying at a Hilton Hotel where he was gambling. While he was asleep one night, the hotel issued a second key to an unknown person who apparently entered the room and stole over $75,000 in cash winnings and chips. Powers sued, claiming negligence by the hotel. The trial court held for Hilton; Powers appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The hotel is immune under the state Innkeepers’Act for loss of a guest’s valuables that were not deposited in the hotel safe. This includes gambling chips. While the statute does not specify gambling chips, they are valuable and so are under the statute. The hotel is not responsible for the theft of chips or for the consequences of the theft.

Citation CNOC Corp. v. Powers, 2006 WL 560687 (Super. Ct., N.J., 2006)

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