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La Quinta Inns, Inc. v. Leech

Georgia Court of Appeals
658 S.E.2d 637 (2008)


Facts

John Leech had lived at a La Quinta Inn (defendant) for about six months while he was separated from his wife. John’s adult son, James Leech, came to town to attend Ashley Leech’s, John’s daughter, high school graduation. John, his girlfriend, James, and his friend went to dinner and then planned to meet up with John’s daughter and her boyfriend. Ashley saw John with his girlfriend and confronted John about his affair. John went back to the La Quinta Inn and rented a different room that permitted smoking. This new room was on the seventh floor. John talked to Linda Cotton (defendant) at the front desk and had a pleasant conversation. Later, James came to the hotel to see John. Cotton refused to give James the room number where John was staying. Cotton called John on the hotel phone in the new room, and John told her not to give out his room number. John said he would call James on his cell phone. John and James talked for a few minutes, and then John began talking strangely. John apologized to James for some of the things that had happened and asked James to tell the family that John was sorry. John said that he wouldn’t be there to tell the family himself. James covered the cell phone and told Cotton to call for help and give him the room number. James tried to keep John on the phone, but Cotton did not call for help or give out the room number. James then yelled at Cotton to get help or give the room number. John heard the yelling and told James that it would be over before James got there and hung up. Cotton finally called 911, approximately 14 minutes after James initially told her to do so. Two police officers arrived, and Cotton gave them the old room number and the new one. The police officers went to the old room, and James went to the room on the seventh floor. James heard John talking on the phone and knocked on the door. When John didn’t answer, James kicked in the door. When James went inside, he looked through the open window and saw John’s body on the ground below. John died from the fall. John’s wife and estate (plaintiffs) sued the La Quinta Inn and Cotton for negligence. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment filed by La Quinta Inn and Cotton, and they appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ellington, J.)

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