Under Texas law, an innkeeper's responsibility to his guests is limited to the exercise of ordinary or reasonable care.
Plaintiff parents of deceased child, in a diversity case, brought a wrongful death action for the death of their son who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while a guest in defendant's motel. A chair next to the heater had burned and was smoldering. Plaintiffs alleged that the gas heater in the motel room was defective because it had been improperly installed, was improperly vented, and had never been inspected or cleaned since the time of installation. A jury verdict in the form of answers to special interrogatories found that the death was not proximately caused by the negligence of defendants, and that his death was due to an unavoidable accident. The district court entered a final judgment for defendants and dismissed the action on its merits, from which plaintiffs appealed.
Should the hotel be held liable for the death of the child?
The Court held that the district court did not err in charging the jury that defendants owed decedent a duty of ordinary care instead of a high degree of care under state law, the testimony of appellees regarding other occupants of the room was properly admitted, and because the submission of the interrogatory did not constitute reversible error.