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Tuesday, June 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Los Angeles Hotel Rule Goes to Full 9th Circuit

(CN) - Hoteliers required by Los Angeles to maintain guest registry information for unwarranted police access can fight the rule before an en banc appellate panel, the 9th Circuit said Wednesday.

Naranjibhai and Ramilaben Patel claim that the law is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment because it invades their private business records without requiring a warrant.

The code requires LA hoteliers to record, keep and hand over to the police all manner of information concerning their guests, including "name and address; total number of guests; make, type and license number of the guest's vehicle if parked on hotel premises; date and time of arrival; scheduled date of departure; room number; rate charged and collected; method of payment; and the name of the hotel employee who checked the guest in," according to the court.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer sided with the city of Los Angeles after a bench trial, finding that the Patels did not show that they have a privacy interest in the registry information.

A split three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Pasadena affirmed in July 2012.

"The Patels have provided no evidence or other basis for us to conclude that they have an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the information covered by this ordinance, let alone that all hotel operators do," Judge Richard Clifton wrote for the panel.

"They cannot meet the standard for a successful facial challenge because they cannot."

Writing in dissent, Judge Harry Pregerson argued that the majority had ignored the "well-established rule" that "to pass constitutional muster, a warrantless search of a business, like any warrantless search, must be based on a 'specifically established and well-delineated exception[ ]' to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement."

In a brief order published Wednesday, the court announced that a majority of nonrecused active judges had voted to rehear the case en banc before an 11-judge panel.

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