Nevada Innkeeper Liability & Crime Statistics

Negligent security claims have a unique statutory twist in Nevada when arise in the context of an innkeeper.  NRS 651.015 requires that a court determine the duty and foreseeability issues as a matter of law.  In other negligence cases, foreseeability is an issue reserved for a jury.  One argument often used to argue that a particular criminal act was foreseeable is to obtain crime statistics in the area surrounding the premises.  I personally have seen some “experts” use crime statistics from an area within a two mile radius of the hotel.  However, the foundation needed to link these statistics to the particular criminal act at issue is often missing.

Vincent v. Four Queens, LLC[1]confronted this issue in a motion for summary judgment.  The Four Queens submitted a declaration from his Director of Security for the past 13 years who stated there had not been an event similar to this in 12 years.  The Vincents relied upon the same “Statistical Documentation Report” from Metro that I have seen in other cases.  With the report was a letter from Metro “explaining that the Report was a list for calls for service at the subject address, and that counsel could identify those calls that interested him and serve a subpoena requesting copies of the actual police reports of those specific calls.”  The Vincents did not subpoena any information.

The problem with the Report is that it did not contain information that would enable the parties or the court to evaluate whether prior, similar criminal acts should have put Four Queens on notice.

All of the calls for service are identified with a single address, 202 Fremont Street, which is the Four Queens Hotel and Casino’s physical address. But the Report does not indicate where the incident took place, whether inside or outside the Four Queens, or whether it actually happened, given that these are only reports of calls for service. Since counsel did not subpoena the actual police reports regarding any of these calls, it is impossible to tell whether any criminal activity took place on that date and whether it took place inside the Four Queens.

It is clear from the Report that some of these calls for service were incidents occurring outside of the Four Queens and merely used the Four Queens’ physical address as the location nearest to the incident. For instance, the Report lists various code types like 401A (Hit and Run), 401B (accident with injuries), 406V (Auto Burglary), 409 (Drunk Driver), 411 (Stolen Motor Vehicle). These codes describe incidents that would obviously have occurred outside the Four Queens.

Worse, the Report itself stated “that the only official crime statistics are contained in the Uniform Crime Report. The Vincents did not submit a copy of the Uniform Crime Report. The Report they submitted is not considered official crime data and contains, by its express terms, only ‘estimates and/or approximations.’”

As with other recent expert posts, the party took only one step of a multi-step process.  The typical result followed: summary judgment for Four Queens.

[1] No. 2:14-cv-01073, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46176 (D. Nev. Apr. 4, 2016).