According to the Internet, North Little Rock, Arkansas has a yearly average snowfall of just over four inches, and unfortunately for its residents, that number does not appear to be changing any time soon. Aquapark Holdings, LLC, a company that owns Wild River Country, rented a 50-ton snow maker from SnowMagic, Inc., as it hoped to bring snow rides to the park during the 2013-2014 season. According to Wild River, SnowMagic claimed that the 50-ton snow maker could create and maintain snow in 70 degree weather under direct sunlight. However, in practice, Wild River found that the snow wouldn’t “stick” in 45 degree weather and turned to slush in direct sunlight. After numerous customer complaints, “most customers did not return and, as word of the disappointing attraction spread, attendance at the snow park diminished drastically,” according to the pleadings filed by Wild River Country. Litigation started when SnowMagic brought suit against Wild River alleging that Wild River failed to play nearly half of the $215,000 bill for the equipment rental. Wild River then counterclaimed for catastrophic damages allegedly caused by the snow maker’s failure. Regardless of the outcome, the real victims of the litigation may be the residents of Little Rock, who will continue to be without the winter thrill. Oh, well.
Always be prepared for business travel, and expect the unexpected. Like many, I am a traveler that generally forgets to pack a needed item when I take a business trip. It’s usually something harmless like a toothbrush, toothpaste or portable thermal pots. When this happens, though, I’m always grateful for the complimentary toiletries the hotel keeps in its closet behind the front desk. During such wayward journeys, I often think of the hotel as a supplier of necessities. After reading the recent case of Hammond v. John Q. Hammons Hotels Mgmt., No. CIV-09-652-M, 2010 WL 302233 (W.D. Okla. Jan. 20, 2010), I will never think of a hotel as a “supplier” again.
In that case, the Plaintiff, an Oklahoma City dental hygienist, was traveling with her husband to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Id. at *1. As Mrs. Hammond was preparing to iron a wrinkled garment, she reached for the clothes iron. The court recounted what followed:
As Plaintiff slid the clothes iron’s plug into the socket in her hotel room, the plug exploded in her right hand and a ball of fire shot out from the wall. As a result of the explosion, plaintiff’s hand was charred and her hand and arm were electrocuted, causing neurological damage.
[a] supplier of a product is subject to liability in damages for harm to a person or to property if: (1) The supplier is engaged in the business of manufacturing, assembling, selling, leasing, or otherwise distributing the product; (2) The product was supplied by him or her in a defective condition that rendered it unreasonably dangerous; and (3) The defective condition was a proximate cause of the harm to a person or to property.
Ark.Code. Ann. § 4-86-102(a) (2009).
(6)(A) “Supplier” means any individual or entity engaged in the business of selling a product, whether the sale is for resale or for use or
(B) “Supplier” includes a retailer, wholesaler, or distributor and also includes a lessor or bailor engaged in the business of
leasing or bailment of a product.
(C) “Supplier” shall not include any licensee, as the term is defined in § 17-42-103(10), who is providing only brokerage and sales services under a license;….
Ark.Code Ann. § 16-116-102(6) (2009).
The Hammond court’s analysis is sound. Hotels simply do not place incidental products such as clothes irons or toothpaste into the stream of commerce. It’s logical to conclude that they are not sellers or suppliers. As such, I really need to stop thinking of hotels as a supplier of my necessities or better yet, I need to start double-checking my luggage when I travel!