17 October, 2016 Legal
On 12 October, William Michael Jr. of Mayer Brown LLP, published an informative article on hotel liabilities related to terrorism titled, “Hotels at Risk: The Legal Consequences of Terrorist Attacks on Hotels.” It was posted on Lexology.com.
In the article, Mr. Michael discusses the rise of terror attacks on hotels, the three main defenses used by hotels in terror attack lawsuits, and the circumstances where hotel legal defenses typically fail. Michael writes, “Negligent security cases that advance past the summary judgment stage typically involve special facts indicating that the defendant could or did reasonably foresee the attack.”
Missing from the article is the concept of “totality of circumstances,” a concept that is increasingly being used to fight against typical hotel legal defenses in terror attack cases. In very approximate terms, totality of circumstances broadly means that, since there is so much terrorist violence directed at hotels these days, hotels should be proactively prepared to thwart such threats instead of waiting for an intelligence entity to warn them that they are being targeted.
The concept was made clear by lawyers and insurers at the Hospitality Law Conference in March 2016 in Houston.
Another issue in the article concerns the number of hotel attacks in recent history. Michael writes, “Between 1970 and January 2016, more than 160 terrorist attacks have taken place at hotels around the world.”
Muir Analytics has compiled a database of hotel attacks the world over from 2010-2015 (adding 2016 at present,) which reveals that over 550 such attacks have taken place during this time frame alone. This includes both direct attacks on hotel properties – large and small – and indirect attacks, which is when an attack takes place close enough to a hotel to impact its safety, security, business continuity, and brand name.
Otherwise, Mr. Michael has written an excellent piece on a subject too often neglected by the hospitality industry. The article should be considered a benchmark piece and carefully considered by the hotel industry.
Sources and further reading:
William Michael Jr. of Mayer Brown LLP, “Hotels at Risk: The Legal Consequences of Terrorist Attacks on Hotels,” Lexology.com, 12 October 2016.
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