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Wassell v. Adams

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
865 F.2d 849 (1989)



Susan Marisconish (plaintiff) checked into the Ron-Ric motel in September 1985 for the graduation of her fiancé, Michael Wassell, who was graduating from a nearby naval-training station. The Ron-Ric was owned by Wilbur and Florena Adams (defendants) and was located a few blocks away from a dangerous urban area. The Adamses did not warn Susan about the dangers of the area. One evening, Susan went looking for apartments in the area. After returning to the room, Susan locked the door and fell asleep. At 1:00 a.m., Susan was awoken by a knock at the door. Believing that her fiancé might be knocking, Susan opened the door. Instead, there was another man standing outside. Susan eventually let the man inside. After the man’s intentions became clear, Susan attempted to escape, but the man dragged her back into the room and raped her. There was no telephone or alarm system in the room that would have allowed Susan to contact someone for help. Susan brought a negligence suit against the Adamses. At district court, a jury returned an award of $850,000 for Susan, but found that Susan was 97 percent responsible due to her own negligence and reduced the award accordingly. Susan brought a motion to have the verdict overturned, but the judge denied the motion. Susan appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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