Case: Wassel v Adams 865 f.

2d 849 Facts: Wassel visited def's motel and was attacked and raped during her stay there, while visiting her husband who was graduating the naval academy. The motel owners knew of the dangerous neighborhood, and that this type of attack could happen, but did not warn plaintiff to the danger. Plaintiff came from a small town, and the motel was in a urban area, and so was not used to taking as much precaution as someone living in that area would normally take. At 1am, a knock on her door awoke her but she did not see anyone on the other side of the door. She assumed it was her husband, and opened the door. A well-dressed black man was at the door and asked her for a glass of water. She went to get it for him, and when she returned, he was sitting in her motel room. He then asked if she had any money, and she responded that she had $20 in her car. He then went to get a colder glass of water and she hid her purse but did not leave the room. He then proceeded to rape her, and she was finally able to escape. Issue: How much is Wassel contributorily negligent, and how much of the harm was caused by the defendants, hotel owners?

Notes Jury gives plaintiff verdict, but finds she was 97% responsible for what happened and she gets $25k. • 2 reasons motel owners were negligent: ○ There were recent attacks in the area and didn’t inform her ○ No security; no alarms • Victim contributorily negligent ○ She opened door in the middle of the night, when she didn’t know who was there ○ She didn’t escape when she had a chance, when attacker is in the bathroom ○ She failed to exercise reasonable caution to protect herself • Victim naïve - from small town ○ Said she doesn’t have that hardened urban mentality, that everyone has a devious plan. Her attorney implied that her mentality different than a reasonable person. ○ Judge Posner says this is irrelevant because since she was just awoken, and was sleepy, her actions based on her naivety wouldn’t have changed even if she had an urban mentality because she was thinking clearly. Prof Kuh doesn’t really understand this b/c then if we assume if she had the reasonable person mentality and opened the door due to her sleepiness, then she would have been still acting as a reasonable person, and therefore not be negligent. • Judge Posner not allowed to put himself in jury's position. Plaintiff wants JNOV. Judge needs to solve, "is there sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude the way they did?" Even though he disagrees with the result, he lets the verdict stand b/c a reasonable jury could possibly decide this. • What does Judge say is a way of quantifying the burden of preventing the harm? $20k a year for security guard. • Judge says failure to warn couldn’t have been a but for cause - b/c even if she had been warned, she thought it was her husband at the door, and also she was sleepy, so warning probably wouldn’t have changed the events. • What is the cost to plaintiff for exercising increased vigilance for her own safety? - judge says its not 0,l and not slight. Difficulty in putting value to these types of things. • Restatement Section 8

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