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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    4

    Default What Are Your Remedies if Your Car is Stolen from Valet Parking

    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: MN

    A rental car was left with a hotel valet (only parking option) at check-in. Valets were dressed in hotel-branded uniforms. A claim ticket for the car was provided, along with the usual instructions of how to call for retrieving the car. The following morning, after calling the valet stand to collect the car, an unusually long wait occurred. Finally, a valet attendant notified me that they were unable to locate my car. The hotel management arrived on scene and all were in agreement that a police report should be filed. A report was filed for the missing vehicle (further identified as "stolen" in an email from hotel management).

    The rental car was recovered several days later, heavily damaged and looted, with the original keys in the car (keys left with the valet at the hotel check-in). A suitcase was left in the trunk of the car during check-in, which was subsequently looted and anything of value either stolen or destroyed.

    The hotel and valet company (third party operator, outsourced by the hotel) ceased communications with me after the police report was filed. As the rental car company wanted the vehicle repaired and returned to service, a damage claim was filed with my personal auto insurer. They paid for the repairs, minus my $500 deductible, with repairs exceeding $6,000. No further loss recovery nor damages were sought by the rental car company. Attempts were made to contact the hotel and valet company to notify them of the repair situation and out-of-pocket expenses. No successful contact was ever made, and emails/phone calls went unanswered.

    The issue was raised with hotel corporate management, seeking retribution for the out-of-pocket repair expense and replacement value of items looted/destroyed from the suitcase (in excess of $7,000). While sympathetic on the phone, they internally deferred to the third party valet company. Several days later, the valet company advised they reviewed the case and do not find any negligence on their part, with no further details. A follow up call to hotel corporate resulted in their assertion the hotel was not negligent in any way.

    For what basis is the valet company liable in this case? Is the hotel property liable to any extent? The valet breached their duty of contract by failing to safeguard the vehicle and/or keys, as evidenced by the fact that the original keys were located inside the car when it was eventually recovered. CCTV footage may be available, but it is not accessible to me as the police report names the car owner as the rental car company. Once the car was recovered, the auto theft case was presumably closed. My resolution sought is recovery of costs involved in the vehicle repair and replacement of goods stolen from inside the car.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,053

    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
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    replacement value of items looted/destroyed from the suitcase (in excess of $7,000).
    You had $7000 worth of items in a suitcase that you left in the trunk of the car?

    If you have homeowners or renters policy, they should be covered. Then you'd only be out your two deductibles for which you are free to sue the valet company as I can't see the hotel having any liability.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    4

    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Jewelry and the like can add up in cost very quickly.

    Renter's insurance was a no-go. They only cover property kept in personal (owned) vehicles, not including rental cars, unfortunately.

    In terms of the claim ticket, and liabilities/responsibilities listed, implied contract applies in this case as bailment. There is an agreement in that I entrust the valet to take reasonable steps to care for my car. It has been witnessed that the valet stand, to this day, keeps the key locker open and unlocked, within easy access of passersby. Whether an outside party took the keys from the lockbox or an employee was involved directly, it is proven that the valet has an established history of failure to adequately care for and secure property entrusted to them under the implied contract.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2013
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    17,053

    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
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    Renter's insurance was a no-go. They only cover property kept in personal (owned) vehicles, not including rental cars, unfortunately.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
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    Jewelry and the like can add up in cost very quickly.Renter's insurance was a no-go. They only cover property kept in personal (owned) vehicles, not including rental cars, unfortunately.
    That's news to me and I worked in the insurance industry for 35 years. The renter's policy HO-4 covers personal property anywhere in the world and has no exclusion for property in rented vehicles.

    Unfortunately, those policies have a limit (typically $1500) on loss by theft of jewelry. If you carry high value jewelry around you should have specialized insurance on those items or, at least, increased limits, which is often an option offered by insurance companies.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
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    Implied contract applies in this case as bailment. There is an agreement in that I entrust the valet to take reasonable steps to care for my car. It has been witnessed that the valet stand, to this day, keeps the key locker open and unlocked, within easy access of passersby. Whether an outside party took the keys from the lockbox or an employee was involved directly, it is proven that the valet has an established history of failure to adequately care for and secure property entrusted to them under the implied contract.
    Then you know enough about bailments to file your lawsuit. Go for it.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
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    A claim ticket for the car was provided, along with the usual instructions of how to call for retrieving the car.
    The claim ticket almost certainly included language indicating that the valet service was an independent contractor, not part of the hotel, and disclaiming liability for certain losses; we can't see the ticket, so you will have to tell us what it said.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
    The rental car was recovered several days later, heavily damaged and looted, with the original keys in the car (keys left with the valet at the hotel check-in).
    To me, that is pretty clear evidence of negligence on the part of the valet company -- if a third party can get keys to a car that it has parked, the valet company is not properly safeguarding the keys.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
    The issue was raised with hotel corporate management, seeking retribution for the out-of-pocket repair expense and replacement value of items looted/destroyed from the suitcase (in excess of $7,000).
    This is an issue that third parties must often address in this type of situation -- their expression of sympathy and trying to make things right is followed by, "So you're going to compensate me for the three gold bars and Fabergé egg that I had in the glove compartment?" Whatever your situation, it may be that they wrote you off as unreasonable once you claimed that the contents of your suitcase were worth more than $7,000.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
    Several days later, the valet company advised they reviewed the case and do not find any negligence on their part, with no further details.
    If they are stating that they would be liable based on ordinary negligence, but that they don't believe that they were negligent, I continue to assert that the fact that the thief had keys to your car suggests that they were in fact negligent. If you sue, a judge will decide.

    You have not given us any information that would suggest negligence by the hotel. We are not in a position to comment on any confusion that may or may not have existed with regard to whether or not the valet appeared to be a hotel employee, but even if there was some genuine confusion I can't promise you that it would support a case against the hotel for the actions of its independent contractor.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
    CCTV footage may be available, but it is not accessible to me as the police report names the car owner as the rental car company.
    You reported the theft of your property to the police, correct? Then speak to the detective in charge, find out the status of the investigation, and see if they were able to secure any CCTV video and (if so) what it showed and whether you can review it.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
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    Jewelry and the like can add up in cost very quickly.
    Jewelry and the like may be worth a lot at retail, and worth very little on the second-hand market. Even if you can prove that you had specific jewelry items in your suitcase and that you paid $7,000 at retail to purchase those items, you may find that their fair market value is a small fraction of that amount.
    Quote Quoting FurkaPass
    It has been witnessed that the valet stand, to this day, keeps the key locker open and unlocked, within easy access of passersby.
    If you can prove that at the time your car was stolen, the theft was accomplished by somebody who walked past that unlocked key locker, grabbed the keys and stole your car, then that would appear to be a good basic case of negligence. The fact that the valet company has not improved its security does not change what did or did not happen on the date your vehicle was stolen -- either that was the manner in which the keys were taken, in which case the lack of security at that time is what is relevant to a court's determination, or it was not, in which case it's irrelevant because the keys were obtained in some other manner.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    New Jersey
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    3,625

    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    You had $7000 worth of items in a suitcase that you left in the trunk of the car?
    Unfortunately, yes. It was right next to the $2800 MacBook and $3000 in cash that was taken along with the burglary and theft of the automobile.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    4

    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    No, I had my computer in the room and I rarely have cash on my anymore. The Cartier watch in the suitcase wasn’t bought on Canal Street.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Florida
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    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Look, I don't see snark as being particularly helpful to anyone. The legal claim would certainly be a bailment claim and an argument could be made that the valet company was acting as an agent of the hotel if the only parking option at the hotel is to utilize the valet company. $7000 is going to be a small claim so your best bet would be to file it and see what happens. I don't think any of us here can tell you what will happen with any certainty. One thing that's going to be difficult, though, is proving what was in the suitcase or that there even was a suitcase left in the car. Most people take their luggage (and particularly luggage containing expensive jewelry) to their room before having the valet park it. If I were the judge I'd sure want more than the plaintiff's say so.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Quote Quoting asa_jim
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    an argument could be made that the valet company was acting as an agent of the hotel if the only parking option at the hotel is to utilize the valet company.
    All sorts of arguments can be made. I've been to many hotels in many cities. I have yet to find one where your only parking option was to use a valet.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    3

    Default Re: Car Stolen from Valet, Damaged

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    All sorts of arguments can be made. I've been to many hotels in many cities. I have yet to find one where your only parking option was to use a valet.
    Quite a few hotels in SF offer nothing but valet.

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