STRICT LIABILITY

After visiting their old friend, a battle-scarred Tom who retired to the San Juan Islands, the cats wanted to do some sightseeing.  We visited the Butchart Gardens and then went to the Empress Hotel, where we had made a reservation for one night, but we forgot to make a dinner reservation.  We went to the dining room, but there were no tables available.  Then we spotted you, of all people, sitting alone at a table set for four.

“We know that person, sitting alone at that table,” we say to the elegantly attired host.  “Would you please see if it is possible for us to dine at his table?”

The host walks over to your table and poses the question, and you look up from your menu and see us, standing next to the host’s podium by the door.   You frantically scan the room, looking for an exit, and then you realize that we are standing in front of the only door in and out of the dining room.  You are trapped.  You consent to having us join you.

“Thank you,” I say, as the cats and I take our seats.

“You’re welcome,” you say, graciously.

We order, and the waiter brings you a Caesar salad with anchovies.  The cats are eying the anchovies.  You have a glass of red wine by your plate. You take a sip of wine and then take a forkful of the Caesar salad with a satisfied grin.  The smile quickly fades as you yell out in pain.

“Ouch,” you say, holding your jaw.  “I bit into an olive pit.  I think that I broke a tooth,” and, sure enough, you have chipped off a part of your tooth.  “I don’t know what to do now,” you say.  “I don’t have dental insurance.”

“The hotel will pay your dental bill,” I say.

“Why would they do that?” you ask.

“They are strictly liable for providing you with a hazardous product that resulted in injury and that could not have been known to be hazardous by a person of ordinary prudence exercising reasonable care,” I say.

“Gosh, thanks,” you reply, as you push away the Caesar salad.

“Are you going to finish that?” I ask, as the cats extend their paws across the table.

Allen Drescher has practiced law in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973.  His practice areas include real estate and business law, estate planning and elder law.

© Allen Drescher