Larson v. St. Francis Hotel


–          Larson (P) was walking on the sidewalk, just after walking out from the hotel; he was struck on the head by a heavy, overstuffed arm chair.

–          No one saw the accident happen, but it’s a reasonable inference that it came from St. Francis Hotel (D).


Does the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur apply here?




  1. There must be an accident.
  2. The instrumentality that caused the accident was at the time of and prior thereto under the exclusive control and management of the defendant.
  3. That the accident was such that in the ordinary course of events, the defendant using ordinary care, the accident would not have happened.

Courts Reasoning

–          Only where the exclusive control and management of the defendant and can have no application to a case having a divided responsibility where an unexplained accident may have been attributable to one of several causes, for one of which defendant is not responsible.

–          Exclusive control is not limited to the actual physical control but applies the right of control of the instrumentality which causes the injury.

  • Hotel does not have exclusive control, either actual or potential of its furniture.
  • It is not said that the hotel was not using ordinary care – the accident was such that in the ordinary course of events.
  • Just as likely that a guest was at fault.
  • Most logical inference is that the chair was thrown by some person.

***This occurrence does not happen without the negligence of the party charged, but rather, one in which the accident ordinarily might happen despite the fact that the defendants used reasonable care and were totally free from negligence***

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