Marriott (MAR) issued a statement on Friday in response to court pleadings blaming a rape victim for being assaulted.
In 2006, the victim was raped at gunpoint in front of her children (aged 3 and 5) in a hotel parking lot in Stamford, Connecticut. In response to the victim's lawsuit, attorneys for the hotel pled the affirmative defense that the victim was responsible for the damages which she suffered.
While this is a standard response pled in a tort suit Answer, the statements garnered national attention. More to the point, the prospective jury pool is reacting on local television.
- N.B.: In this case, it appears that the plaintiff is suing the hotel and the company which operated the parking lot.. Generally it would be impossible to maintain a suit against the franchisor. The doctrine under which someone can be held liable for the actions of an underling is known as "respondeat superior" and it is generally not applicable in franchise cases.
- In Hong Wu v. Dunkin' Donuts (EDNY 2000) the court said that the franchisor could not be held liable for the rape of an employee at a franchised outlet, an outcome followed by most courts.
- Most recently in Bass v. Gopal Inc & Super 8 Motels Inc, (Ct. Appeals S.C., July 1 2009) an appellate court upheld a grant of summary judgment on the ground that the franchisor did not exercise "sufficient control over the motel's daily operations" to be held liable.