A paid agent is subject to a duty to the principal to act with standard care and with the skill which is standard in the locality for the kind of work which he is employed to perform and, in addition, to exercise any special skill that he has. A gratuitous agent is under a duty to the principal to act with the care and skill, which is, required of persons not agents performing similar gratuitous undertakings for others. However, both of these types of duties are subject to the agreement that was struck between the agent and the principal. The firm should discover whether or not there was a definition of what standard of care would be owed to the client on the contract that the two parties likely formed when they began their business relationship. Additionally, the main difference between the two types of standard of care is that a paid agent has the duty to act with the standard of care that is customary for agents in this field, and the gratuitous agent is held to the reasonableness of any person not to the higher standard of a reasonable agent.
In this case there is a legal question of whether it was BVI’s duty to disclose the safety information of the motel to Mr. Meley. However, there is also a legal question of whether BVI could have had relevant information regarding the motel’s safety. Before determining whether BVI had to disclose information, it may be easier for BVI’s case to discuss how BVI did not have any relevant information on the safety of the hotel and how obtaining this information was not obvious for BVI. BVI could argue that they did their due diligence under the standard of care of a paid agent because they consulted the American Travel Association report on this motel, and they checked the United States Travel Associations bulletin and both of documents did not report the crime information of the motel. On the other hand, if determined to be a gratuitous agent, a reasonable person would most likely be unaware that those documents existed, and they would not have checked those bulletins and BVI would have gone above what was expected of them. In the Loretti v. Air Land Travel Bureau case, the travel agency booked a client in a hotel that was different from the hotel that they initially chose, and they personally assured the client that the beaches would have been safe. When the client arrived at the hotel and went on the beach they discovered that the beach was not safe and they were violently attacked. When the client sued the travel agency the appellate court held that the travel agency had a duty to disclose information regarding the safety of the area if that information was “reasonably obtainable”. This directly applies to the BVI case because despite this motel being the motel brand of choice for Mr. Meley, and it being in the geographical location of Mr. Meley’s desire; BVI would have had a duty to disclose information regarding the safety of the motel because Mr. Meley did directly mention safety as a concern. However, the court would have to determine whether that information was “reasonably obtainable” for BVI and beyond that the court would have to determine whether that information would have persuaded a reasonable person to believe that the motel was unsafe, and only then would BVI be liable for the damages suffered by Mr. Meley.
Information that may prove useful to the legal defense of BVI would be whether or not any information provided to the travel agency from any supplemental aid provided information regarding safety and whether or not these potential supplemental sources had information with this specific motel’s safety. As described above, the information of whether BVI was paid for their services is relevant to what standard of care would be owed to Mr. Meley. Another relevant source of information would be to determine whether Mr. Meley would have stayed at a hotel that was not the Highland Inn. If Mr. Meley would have only stayed at a Highland Inn because of his rewards program then the case might be determined to be a moot point, he would be arguing that it was BVI’s duty to disclose information but he would have gone with the unsafe choice anyway despite the information given to him. Additionally, the firm should attempt to discover if there was another motel that fit his criteria for lodging. If Mr. Meley would have only stayed at a Holiday Inn that met his expectations of being close to the interstate, this motel might have been the only option that satisfies all of his requirements, and BVI’s job is to provide Mr. Meley with what he desires.
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