Summary Judgment for Motel Operator in Third Party Assault Case

John Fedor and Keith Ciceron obtain summary judgment in favor of a motel operator against claims of liability for a serious third party criminal attack against a motel patron. The patron was walking to his room when his assailant joined him and the two talked causally in a friendly manner until the patron stopped at his room’s door. The assailant then told the patron this was a robbery, allegedly stuck a gun in the patron’s back, and followed the patron inside the room. Once inside, the assailant used his hands and fists to attack the patron and force him into the bathroom, where he then used a towel rack torn from the wall to stab plaintiff and porcelain from a toilet tank top broken during the assault to slash the patron’s hands, scalp, and throat.

The patron sustained multiple serious lacerations that required more than 300 stitches and scar revision surgery. Medical expenses were approximately $175,000 with unspecified lost wages. The patron’s wife filed a loss of consortium claim. The Fresno County Superior Court judge agreed with the defense arguments and found that the facts developed by defense counsel and the applicable law established as a matter of law that the third party attack was not sufficiently highly foreseeable to impose a duty on the motel operator to protect plaintiff against the alleged attack and injuries.