Facts: P’s husband parked her car in the parking garage of D’s hotel. She was not
staying at the hotel.
Issue: Is the operator of a commercial parking garage liable for theft of a vehicle during
the absence of the owner based on a bailee-bailor relationship?
Holding: Affirmed in favor of P.
Rationale:
– the realities of the park-and-lock operators are to provide attendants with
protection. In practicality, the operator does assume control and custody over the
vehicles parked. Limiting access thereto and requiring the presentation of a ticket
upon exit. Here, there was no other exit from which the vehicle could have been
driven. The area was enclosed, there were security guards, and one exit where a
ticket needed to be presented to the attendant.
– This is a situation under the traditional concept of a bailment for hire. It amounts
to more than a mere license or hiring of a space to park a vehicle, unaccompanied
by expectation of protection or other obligations upon the operator of the
establishment. (burden of proof was on D)
Dissent:
– In order for a bailment relationship to occur, there must be a full transfer, either
actual or constructive, of the property to the bailee so as to exclude it from the
possession of the owner and all other persons and to give the bailee, for the time
being, the sold custody and control thereof. Here P retained possession of the
ignition keys, he parked the car himself.
– In parking lot and garage situations, a bailment is created where the operator of
the lot or garage has knowingly and voluntarily assumed control, possession, or
custody of the vehicle. Here the ticket clearly stated that hotel had no intentions
of taking full custody of the cars of those who use the garage.