Coyle v. Historic Mission Inn Corp.Annotate this Case
Plaintiff-appellant Michele Coyle sued defendan-respondent Historic Mission Inn Corporation (the Mission Inn) for negligence and premises liability. Coyle ate lunch with a friend on a patio at the Mission Inn. During lunch, a spider bit Coyle’s back. As a result of the spider bite, Coyle “was hospitalized with numbness and weakness in her extremities due to demyelination in [her] thoracic spine.” In the negligence and premises liability causes of action, Coyle alleged the Mission Inn “knew or should of known that spiders were prevalent in the outside patio area of its restaurants.” Coyle asserted the Mission Inn was aware or should have been aware of the risk the spiders posed to patrons. Coyle alleged the Mission Inn was negligent in failing to warn of the danger of the spiders, or in failing to take reasonable care to prevent spiders from coming into contact with patrons. Coyle sought compensatory damages. In its defense, Mission Inn asserted, “[A] hotel operator does not have an absolute duty to insure the safety of its guests, and this includes a duty to protect against spider bites.” The Mission Inn contended, it “did not owe [Coyle] a duty to protect her from the alleged black widow spider bite [because s]uch a duty would be unreasonable under the circumstances in this case” due to: (1) the Mission Inn following “pest control protocols that exceeded industry standards”; (2) the Mission Inn lacking any knowledge of black widow spiders on its dining patio; and (3) the costs of a duty outweighing the benefits of a duty. Further, the Mission Inn asserted it exercised reasonable care in this case because the Mission Inn “met and exceeded the industry standard of insect inspection and extermination.” The trial court granted the Mission Inn’s motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeal concluded after review of the trial court record, that the evidence presented did not preclude a finding in favor of Coyle on damages. Therefore, the trial court erred by granting summary judgment. The matter was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.