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Tort; hotel guest assaulted by clerk, nonsuit. Before Judge Pharr. Fulton Superior Court. March 20, 1956.
1. Like other masters, a hotel proprietor or innkeeper is liable for the torts of his servant committed in the performance of the duties the servant is employed to discharge and that could be reasonably expected of him in the prosecution of the proprietor's business.
2. It is the duty of an innkeeper not only to furnish his guest or patron with shelter and comforts but also to exercise ordinary care to protect him from danger. 28 Am. Jur. 574, 52.
3. Hotels customarily transact business with patrons through the medium of clerks. It is within the scope of a hotel clerk's employment, when representing the proprietor of the establishment, to courteously reply to polite requests of the patron for accommodations of a lawful and moral nature irrespective of whether he or the hostelry is under any duty or can reasonably be expected to grant such requests. For a similar holding, though not precisely adjusted to the facts of this case, see Crawford v. Exposition Cotton Mills, 63 Ga. App. 458 (11 S. E. 2d 234).
4. Where, as in the instant case, there was a conflict in the evidence, but some evidence supporting the contention of the plaintiff patron, that, when he tendered the necessary money for the purpose and politely requested of the defendant hotel proprietor's clerk that he arrange credit for his wife at another hotel, the clerk without provocation committed a violent assault upon him, thereby personally injuring and humiliating him, it was error to grant a nonsuit on the assumption that the clerk when making the attack was not acting within the scope of his employment or in the prosecution of the hotel proprietor's business.
George Lee Newton filed an action against Candace, Incorporated, for damages resulting from physical injuries. The petition alleged in substance: that the defendant owned and operated the Briarcliff Hotel in Atlanta; that on March 22, 1952, at approximately 5 o'clock in the morning, the plaintiff, who was then a registered guest at the hotel, approached the clerk's desk in the lobby of the hotel, and the defendant's employee, the night clerk, "then and there furiously, suddenly, with malice, and without any provocation whatsoever, commenced to strike your petitioner a great number of violent blows upon his head and divcrs other parts of his body with a blunt instrument"; that the night clerk was employed by the defendant at this time and place and was working within the scope of his employment in the defendant's business, with the defendant's knowledge and consent; and that petitioner received several permanent injuries from which he suffers and will continue to suffer pain, dizzy spells and double vision.
The defendant's answer denied the material allegations of the petition.
Upon the trial of the case the plaintiff testified in part: that upon reaching their room in the hotel he had an argument with his wife and she left the hotel at approximately 2 o'clock a.m. and went to the Biltmore Hotel; that he then asked his friend, Mr. Eckerle, to accompany him to an all-night drug store where they had some orange juice; that he had drunk only two or three small drinks during the night; that upon returning to his room it occurred to him that his wife might have some difficulty in cashing a check at the Biltmore Hotel; that he then returned to the lobby and approached the night clerk, W. H. McMullen, who was on duty at that time; that he asked Mr. McMullen to establish a $50 credit at the Biltmore Hotel for his wife; that McMullen told him that the hotel had no connection with the Biltmore Hotel and that the best thing for him to do was to go there himself; that he insisted that the credit could be made at the Biltmore and McMullen told him that, the hotel did not render this service nor did he have authority to do so; that as he began to count out the money, McMullen went into a small room behind the desk and returned and commenced to hit him on the head with a blackjack.
McMullen testified in part: that the plaintiff insisted that he establish a credit at the Biltmore Hotel for his wife; that he told the plaintiff that the hotel did not have facilities to establish the credit he desired; that he suggested that the plaintiff should either call or go to the Biltmore, himself, to establish the credit; that the plaintiff cursed him and reached for him over the clerk's counter; and that he then hit plaintiff with a blackjack.
Other witnesses testified as to facts which we feel are unnecessary to relate.
John L. Westmoreland, John L. Westmoreland, Jr., Ernest Tidwell, contra.
Martin H. Peabody, Hurt, Gaines & Baird, for plaintiff in error.
Saturday May 23 02:33 EDT

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