New TripAdvisor Warnings on Sexual Assault Draw Criticism


Benjamin C. Zipursky was quoted in a New York Times article about liability issues faced by travel and hospitality companies.

For Kristie Love, reporting a rape by a security guard at a Mexican resort was like yelling into the wind. She kept repeating her story, she said, but the words had little effect.

The resort, the Iberostar Paraiso Maya in Playa del Carmen, quickly turned matters stemming from the Oct. 19, 2010 incident over to its insurance company, which emailed Ms. Love with a warning that because her allegations had not been proven, any effort to share her story on a public or private website “could be construed as a crime itself,” and that she could be prosecuted for lost income resulting from her “defamation or blackmailing,” according to an email provided by Ms. Love that was sent by Carlos Amézcua-Siniestros, of the firm Willis Mexico.

[A]s of Nov. 14, there was no badge on the Esperanza in Cabos San Lucas, Mexico, despite a lawsuit filed against its parent company, Auberge Resorts, by a woman who claims that it was negligent in the hiring of a waiter who she accused of sexually assaulting her after sneaking into her bedroom a year ago. In a story on Nov. 10, The San Jose Mercury News reported that “the lawsuit includes screenshots of sexually suggestive Facebook posts from the waiter’s public account, including one from May 2015 in which he wrote: ‘I love being the bad guy that everyone falls in love with, and if I admit it, I have no heart, however, I have perversion.’”

Auberge Resorts, based in Mill Valley, Calif., told the paper that it did not comment on pending litigation but was taking the matter seriously.

As for whether TripAdvisor could have potential liability if a traveler were assaulted, Benjamin C. Zipursky, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, said that it was unlikely because a website’s ability to edit posts is protected by both state law and federal statute.


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