Animal Cruelty and Animal Liability: Man Pulls Off Head of Duck in Hotel Lobby

Scott Clark, a guest at an Embassy Suites Hotel in St. Paul, is accused of ripping the head off a duck that lived in the hotel’s pond inside its lobby. Witnesses said that Clark ripped its head off and turned to onlookers and said: “I’m hungry. I’m gonna eat it.” He was allegedly drunk.For the full story, click here He will be charged with a cruelty to animals violations, which fortunately is a felony in Minnesota. The presence of live animals in a hotel lobby, however, is a rare risk run by a chain. Under the common law, a duck is likely considered wild — even though tame. Strict liability would follow any peck or injury caused by the duck. There is also the increased potential for negligence in the maintanence of the ducks. A hotel owner may properly elect that such added risks are outweighed by the benefits of having the interesting addition to the lobby. However, the law tends to force owners to make such a calculus of risk and to internalize the costs.