Clayton House Motel

Full title: Carlton BARNES, Appellant, v. CLAYTON HOUSE MOTEL, Appellee

Court: Court of Civil Appeals of Texas, Waco

Date published: Dec 12, 1968


Defendant’s manager traced the automobile registration and wrote a letter on the bottom of an itemized statement addressed to plaintiff at his residence. It stated in effect that plaintiff had registered under the name of Burne, had left without making payment, and had ‘accidentally packed’ listed items of motel property with his own belongings. The letter requested restitution, or suggested plaintiff ‘contact a lawyer.’

The letter was sent as certified mail with return receipt requested. It was received by the maid at plaintiff’s residence, who signed the receipt but did not open the letter. The maid delivered the letter to plaintiff’s wife, who opened and read it. The wife showed it to the maid and called her husband, who read it. No other person saw the letter.



Here the sender did not know the plaintiff. The sender did not know he was married. There is simply no evidence to show reasonable grounds to anticipate the reading by a third person to constitute a publication. Cases relied on by the plaintiff rest on special circumstances, such as where it is known the letter must be translated, where the addressee is blind, or where the sender knows of the habit or custom of a third person to open and read the mail. These cases must be distinguished from the facts.

The judgment is affirmed.

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