Question: Marvin Gooden checked into a Day s Inn in Atlanta paying
Marvin Gooden checked into a Day's Inn in Atlanta, paying in advance for two days' lodging. The next day he temporarily left his room. He left behind, in the room, a paper bag filled with approximately $9,000. Shortly after Gooden left, housekeeper Mary Carter entered his room to clean it. Carter found the bag of money. Because she saw no other personal effects, Carter assumed that Gooden had checked out. She therefore turned the bag of money over to her supervisor, Vivian Clark. Clark gave the bag to Dempsey Wilson, who was responsible for general supervision and maintenance of the grounds. During the three years he had worked for Day's Inn, Wilson had occasionally been given items of value to turn in at the hotel's office. In the past, he had always turned in the items. This time, however, he absconded with the bag of money. There was a safe on the Day's Inn premises. Day's Inn had posted, on the door of Gooden's room, a notice concerning the safe's availability for use by guests who had valuables with them. Gooden, who had never sought the use of the safe, brought a tort action against Day's Inn, Clark, and Carter in an effort to collect $9,000 in damages. Day's Inn argued that it was protected against liability by the following Georgia statute: "The innkeeper may provide a safe or other place of deposit for valuable articles and, by posting a notice thereof, may require the guests of the innkeeper to place such valuable articles therein or the innkeeper shall be relieved from responsibility for such articles." Gooden contended, however, that the statute could not insulate an innkeeper from liability when the loss of a guest's valuables is occasioned by the negligent (or other tortious) conduct of the innkeeper's employees. Should Gooden prevail against Day's Inn, Clark, and Carter?
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