A Point of Law reader alerted me to an interesting premises liability case just decided in Pennsylvania. On Monday, the intermediate appellate court of that state held in Paliometros v. Loyola that a motel that rents rooms to a fraternity for a party is liable if one party-goer sexually assaults another.
Appellants, as innkeepers, knowing that a fraternity party was going to take place where there undoubtedly would be underage drinking going on, owed to Appellee the affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, and to take precautions by having some supervisory personnel physically present on the premises to monitor both the premises and the conduct occurring upon the same in order to prevent any possible injury to Appellee, as a business invitee on their premises. Consequently, we agree with the trial court's conclusion that Appellants breached their "duty of care under the circumstances and in [their] position as an innkeeper."
The dissent points out that sexual assault is not a reasonably foreseeable result of underage drinking and, moreover, that the assault took place in an unoccupied room rented by the fraternity, where motel employees would not have patrolled. Therefore, the dissent would find no liability because of lack of causation.