So :he decided to hang his jacket on a sprinkler head in his hotel room and properly affix all of his ribbons and medals” and was totally surprised that when he took his jacket down “the sprinkler activated — resulting in more than $690,000 in damage.”
Credit: Holiday Inn Dumfries
The hotel has insurance of course, but they’re looking to recoup their losses so they’re suing the student’s family and his Virginia school system because it was a school trip. The school argues ‘sovereign immunity’ – that state law preempts their being held accountable.
Meanwhile the family turned the claim over to their homeowner’s insurance. A homeowner’s policy often covers more than you think (even if you libel someone on a blog, as long as the blog doesn’t make any money). However the company that issued the homeowners policy, while currently covering the legal defense cost, is seeking a ruling to get them off the hook.
The student, for his part, “said there were no signs to notify guests not to hang clothing from the sprinkler head and that [he] didn’t know it was dangerous.”
The fire department responded in 6 minutes. It took 45 minutes to shut off the water. The flooding that ensued damaged 10 guest rooms and the hotel’s dining and kitchen areas. And the fire department now uses this as a cautionary tale.
This is also why it’s important that hotel rooms provide a closet or wardrobe with hangers otherwise it seems to me to be assumption of just this sort of risk – which should be entirely foreseeable on their part.