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COA: French Lick Resort not negligent in hotel rape

May 9, 2018

A former guest of the French Lick Resort & Casino cannot bring a negligence case against the hotel after the Indiana Court of Appeals determined the sexual attack against the guest was not foreseeable as a matter of law, making summary judgment for the resort appropriate.

In December 2013, Amber Cosgray attended a work-related Christmas party at the French Lick Resort & Casino and engaged in a night of drinking and gambling with her colleagues. After returning to her room at 2 a.m., Cosgray left her door propped open so that her employer could join her when he returned from the casino.

Cosgray fell asleep, but woke up two hours later to find an unknown man on top of her and vaginally penetrating her. The man left after about six minutes, and law enforcement later identified him as Javier Urbano Uribe.

Uribe pleaded guilty to rape in April 2017, and an investigation later revealed that a resort employee had invited him onto the premises that evening. Cosgray subsequently filed a complaint alleging negligence, vicarious liability and negligent infliction of emotional distress against French Lick Resort, which moved for summary judgment.  The Orange Circuit Court granted summary judgment to the resort, finding “resorts and hotels do not routinely contemplate that an invitee might rape another invitee, nor do they contemplate that an invitee will voluntarily leave their doors open and unlocked all night.”

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld that decision in Amber Cosgray v. French Lick Resort & Casino d/b/a Blue Sky Casino, LLC, 59A01-1710-CT-2512, with Judge Patricia Riley writing Wednesday that the sexual attack on Cosgray by another invitee in a room that was intentionally unlocked was not foreseeable. Thus, under the test in Goodwin v. Yeakle’s Sports Bar & Grill, Inc., 62 N.E.3d 384 (Ind. 2016) and Rogers v. Martin, 63 N.E.3d 316 (Ind. 2016), the resort did not owe Cosgray a duty, Riley said.

“Cosgray encourages this court to take into consideration the ‘ongoing history of assaults and batteries involving injury and a prior reported rape’ and the specific security measures to impose a duty on French Lick,” Riley wrote. “However, Cosgray’s inclination to incorporate the totality of the circumstances into our consideration of the duty element is no longer applicable since our supreme court decision in Goodwin and Martin. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s summary judgment for French Lick Resort.”

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