Read the newspaper article reproduced below and answer all six (6) questions that follow. Remember that your answers must discuss legal issues and legal principles.
Hotel guest sues over bath slip A man who lost sight in one eye when he slipped and fell in a Brisbane hotel bathroom is suing the hotel’s owner over allegations of professional negligence.
John Anthony Wagner, 59, of Toowoomba, was staying at the Everton Park Hotel in Brisbane on July 21, 2005, when the incident occurred. Court documents lodged in the Brisbane District Court registry show Mr. Wagner placed a bath mat on the floor of the tub while he took a shower. When he tried to step out of the tub, the mat slipped and he fell, hitting his left eye on one of the taps. As a result of the fall Mr. Wagner is now legally blind in that eye. He also suffered cuts, scarring and shock. Mr. Wagner is now taking the hotel owner-Talbot Group Investments-to court, alleging they failed in their duty of care towards him. Mr. Wagner claims the owners failed to warn him about ‘the potential of risk associated with the slippery nature of the tub’. He claims they also failed to provide a handrail to assist with getting in and out of the tub, and argues that the bath mat did not have sufficient traction. Mr. Wagner also alleges residual cleaning products in the bottom of the tub may have contributed to the fall.
He is yet to determine the exact amount of damages he is claiming, but court documents suggest it could be more than $300,000. This amount would include damages for past and future loss of earnings.
Answer the following questions:
a) Summarise Mr. Wagner’s claim against the hotel owner, Talbot Group Investments and explain why the legal action was brought in the District Court in Brisbane.
b) What factors would the court consider to determine if Talbot Group Investments owed Mr. Wagner a duty of care?
c) Assume that a duty of care was established. What factors would the court consider to determine whether or not that duty had been breached?
d) What defences could Talbot Group Investments claim against Mr. Wagner? What effect might these defences have on any damages that might be payable to Mr. Wagner?
e) Discuss the types of damages that Mr. Wagner could claim and how the relevant amounts would be calculated.
f) What happened to Mr. Wagner seems like an unlucky accident. Should individuals be able to sue another party for this type of incident? Give reasons for your answer.