The Infamous Hilton Newspaper Class Action

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

For those of us who support legal reform, some
cases are so silly, you can’t help but sit back and admire the chutzpah of
those who file them, and shake your head sadly at the legal system that doesn’t
immediately throw them out as a waste of precious court resources. Such is the
case of Sacramento resident Rodney Harmon, who decided to sue Hilton
Hotels
 at the end of July alleging that they tried to trick
him into reading USA Today.

Seriously, Mr. Harmon? I
have stayed at a few hotels in my time, and I can honestly say I do not
remember the Hilton trying to trick me into reading the USA Today. In fact, I
clearly remember that when I checked in there is a form I signed which states
that if I do not want the newspaper they are delivering, they will remove the
charge.

Mr. Harmon accused Hilton
of deliberately hiding the newspaper charge by describing the fee in an
"extremely small font which is difficult to notice or read" on the sleeve of
the room card. But here is the best part: Mr. Harmon goes on to state, "the
alleged consumer injury is substantial, causing millions of guests at
defendant’s hotels to be unwittingly parted with money for a newspaper they did
not request and reasonably believed was provided to them without charge."

Come on, Mr. Harmon. You
consider that to be a substantial injury? A car accident causes substantial
injury. Tearing your Achilles tendon is a substantial injury. But being charged
for a newspaper that is delivered to your hotel room is not a substantial
injury. This case is just one more obnoxious example of how insane the
class action laws are in this country, and especially in this state. Mr.
Harmon will probably get about $7,500 for being the lead member of a class. As
a member of the class I will get a few cents for each of my stays at a Hilton
over the past 10 years and Mr. Harmon’s lawyer will get something like $2
million while laughing all the way to the bank.

Seriously, this nation’s
love affair with lawsuits has got to stop. Mr. Harmon should just buy a new
pair of reading glasses and read the contract he signs before he registers at
hotels. So to the Sheraton, Marriott and all the others, if Mr. Rodney Harmon
checks in, make sure your lawyers are there to greet him.

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