Articles Posted in Innkeepers Law

Published on:

22 June 2015

US Supreme Court voids Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotel operators to turn over guest records on demand

In a 5-4 opinion rendered on June 22, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that a Los Angeles municipal code provision violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable search and seizures. The invalidated LA Code provision requires hotel operators to make guest records available to the police upon request. This case may be significant because many cities throughout the country have similar laws, and they are now all constitutionally suspect. On the other hand, for reasons discussed below, most hotel operators will probably not care to challenge a records request, and there are expedient alternatives available to cities and police, including administrative subpoenas. See below to access the full Supreme Court opinion in City of Los Angeles v. Patel.

Read on to learn more about the Los Angeles City code’s  provisions, the history of the challenge in the District Court, appeals to the Ninth Circuit, and the US Supreme Court’s decision. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

7 October 2012

Click here for the latest articles on Data Technology, Privacy & Security.

Hotel Lawyer on hotels’ liability for failure to protect hotel guests personal identities

My partner Robert Braun advises hotel owners in a wide range of operational issues, including information management. Because of the ubiquitous use of credit cards by hotel guests during a stay, as well as the growing demand for WiFi availability, hotels have been increasingly targeted by identity thieves. In his article below, Bob explains how hotels’ liability for this new type of guest security has grown and what hotels can do to protect their guests’ identities.
Hotel Liability for Guest Information and Identity
What you need to know
Robert E. Braun | Hotel Lawyer

A version of this article was first published in the September 21, 2012 issue of Hotel Business and is reprinted with permission.

Not too long ago, keeping guest information safe was a fairly straightforward process – perhaps the most innovative development was providing an in-room safe for valuables. This approach made sense at the time, when guest security was a matter of securing people and their physical possessions.

The industry now recognizes that hotel guests have valuables to protect that go far beyond watches and wallets, or even laptops and iPads – – perhaps the most valuable information a hotel guest has is his or her identity, and unless a hotel actively safeguards it, those valuables are at risk. The ubiquity of credit card, wireless internet and other options, while essential to hotel operations, is also a source of insecurity.


Published on:

22 February 2012

Hotel Lawyer with “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Hotels and Motels.”

Hoteliers, I have 3 questions for you:

  1. Do you know the red flags of suspicious activity that may indicate a terrorist is staying at your hotel?
  2. Do you know what to do when you see these red flags?
  3. Do you know what the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) say about these matters?

Recently, the FBI and the BJA set up a joint regional intelligence center, a hotline, and published a Release with some tips specifically for hotels and motels. Here are the highlights from the Release, as well as a link to download the full text.


Published on:

20 December 2009

In early November, we warned the readers of the Hotel Law Blog that the multi-year fight over “lost” transient occupancy taxes (TOT) that has been raging between local governmental entities (state, city, and county) and the various online travel companies (OTCs), such as Travelocity, Orbitz,,, and Expedia, was reaching the point where it was going to start impacting hotels financially. Unfortunately, we are there NOW, and things don’t look good for the lodging industry!

Two important developments have just occurred recently, which hotel owners and operators need to watch carefully because they will be spreading rapidly.

First, at least one city has amended its TOT ordinance to expressly make hotels liable for the collection and payment of the TOT on the entire amount that a guest ultimately pays an OTC for the use of a guest room.

Second, some cities are amending their TOT ordinances so that it will make it more difficult and expensive for hotels to challenge TOT assessments.


Published on:

10 June 2009


JMBM hospitality lawyer Jim Abrams has been practicing law for 40 years, specializing in lodging and hospitality law and in representing and advising trade associations and other non-profit entities. Jim is the author of the book Laws Pertaining to the California Innkeeper, which is published by the California Hotel & Lodging Association.


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