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De Wolf v. Ford - 193 N.Y. 397, 86 N.E. 527 (1908)

Rule:

An innkeeper, in order to carry out his express or implied contract to furnish his guest with such convenience and comfort as the inn affords, must have access to the room assigned such guest at such reasonable hours as will enable him to fulfill his duty in that regard, and to make and enforce reasonable rules to prevent misconduct by guests. But these rights must be exercised and rules enforced in such a way as is consistent with the rights of the guest, who is entitled to respectful treatment and protection from incivility. A guest for hire at any inn is entitled to the exclusive and peaceable possession of the room assigned, subject only to such proper intrusions by the innkeeper and his servants as may be necessary in the regular and orderly conduct of the inn, or under some commanding emergency. An innkeeper or his male servants cannot enter the room of a female guest, without her consent, at any hour they may choose, and there is no authority for claim of such right in the rule that an innkeeper must control every part of his inn for the protection of his guests.

Facts:

Appellant guest was staying at respondent innkeeper's inn. Respondent employee forced his way into appellant's room, against appellant's protest, and caused appellant humiliation and suffering when he saw her in scant attire and proceeded to castigate her with offensive epithets which imputed her immorality and unchastity. Respondent employee then ordered appellant to leave the inn. 

Issue:

Whether as a guest of the inn, appellant was entitled to the exclusive and peaceable possession of the room assigned to her, subject only to such proper intrusions by respondents as were necessary in the regular and orderly conduct of the inn, or under some commanding emergency.

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

On appeal, the court reversed the lower courts' judgment to dismiss appellant's complaint. The court held that, as a guest of the inn, appellant was entitled to the exclusive and peaceable possession of the room assigned to her, subject only to such proper intrusions by respondents as were necessary in the regular and orderly conduct of the inn, or under some commanding emergency. The court found that respondents breached their duty to exercise reasonable care to assure that appellant was not treated in an uncivil, harsh or cruel manner by respondents. The court held that the measure of liability, if any, would be purely compensatory and not punitive because appellant could only recover for her personal humiliation and suffering.

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