Charlie Jones, a fireman for Boulder County, Colorado, saw an ad for the vacation of his dreams in the local, “Boulder County Gazette.” The ad read, “Seven days at the wonderful luxury Windell resort, ‘Cabo Mar,’ $1200 per person, all inclusive.” The ad featured a picture of the front of the hotel with a person receiving a massage by the pool superimposed over the hotel façade. The ad went on to say how the hotel was located on the beach at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and in a wonderful tropical setting. The ad also listed the name of a local travel agency, Jennifer’s Tours, for booking purposes. In miniscule print at the bottom of the ad, blending with the pattern of the iron railing, the ad went on to make a short disclaimer to the effect that the amenities featured were not necessarily those provided. Jones knew Jennifer Hooley, the owner of the agency. Anxious for some time off in a warm climate, Jones decided to Google the hotel name to verify that it was indeed a Windell hotel as he knew Windell to be a reputable company. From Google, Jones was able to confirm that the, ‘Cabo Mar,’ was owned by Windell; he also noticed that the same picture appeared on this website as he had first seen in the newspaper. The site also showed pictures of what seemed to be spacious, well-appointed rooms with queen sized beds. Excited by what he saw, Jones called Jennifer’s Tours and booked the special he saw in the newspaper ad.
Upon arrival, Jones found that, while the hotel’s exterior looked like the pictures he saw, the hotel was located mostly in the town of “Cabo” with only a very small portion of the hotel facing beachfront. His room was smaller than on the website and had only a twin bed. Jones was told that if he wanted a bigger room he would have to pay an upgrade fee of $500 for the seven days. He paid the $500 because as a typical fireman, he was a tall, big man and needed more space to sleep. As the trip went on, Jones became increasingly uncomfortable with the, “not included,” fees that were mounting up, but when he went to check out on the seventh day he found that he was being charged for seven lunches. Furious with how the company had treated him, Jones stormed across the lobby to the manager’s office, but before he could get there, he slipped and fell on the wet marble floor having been just washed by the maintenance staff. The staff had placed a “wet” sign on the floor, but it was hidden from plain view behind a large leather chair.
Jones was taken to the nearest hospital where it was determined that surgery was necessary to place a pin in his broken ankle. Anxious to return home and leery of the Mexican hospital, Jones flew out of Mexico immediately after the surgery. He required two plane seats and an ambulance to meet him at the various airports. His health insurance would not cover his hospital stay in Mexico as it was outside the U.S. When back in Boulder, Jones was not able to work for twelve weeks and required another surgery to remove the pin as well as several weeks of therapy. In addition, Jones received his credit card bill with a thousand dollars, “additional charges,” that had been added during his stay at the, ‘Cabo Mar.’
Jones comes to you to consult about his options in this whole affair. He wants to sue for $575,000 to recover on the medical expenses; the cost of the trip (which, with the additional charges amounts to $2200); his lost wages; and pain and suffering resulting from the injury.
In your research of the situation, you discover the following additional information:
1. Jennifer’s Tours is a sole proprietorship owned by Jennifer Hooley. At age 18, Jennifer took over the business from her mother, also named Jennifer Hooley. Just prior to reaching the age of 18, Jennifer had booked Jones’ tour. Jennifer Tours has an exclusive sales contract with Windell Travel, Inc. Jennifer Tours placed the ad in the Boulder Gazette. Similar ads were...