Allen v. Hyatt Regency-Nashville Hotel

668 S.W.2d 286 (Tenn. 1984)

 

RULE:

Bailment had been created when the owner parked his vehicle for custody and safe keeping in the parking garage, where there was limited access and where the patron had to present a ticket to an attendant upon leaving the premises.

FACTS:

The vehicle owner parked his vehicle in a garage owned and operated by the hotel. The vehicle was stolen and he filed suit against the hotel, alleging negligence. The trial court found in favor of the vehicle owner. The hotel appealed, and the court affirmed. The court found that because the vehicle was not left in an open or unattended lot, that a bailment for hire was created. Thus, under a bailment for hire, a statutory presumption of negligence arose, under Tenn. Code Ann. § 24-5-111, once the vehicle was found to be missing.

ISSUE:

Is there sufficient delivery of possession and control to create a bailment, when the owner locks a vehicle and keeps the keys?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court held that a bailment was created when the owner parked and locked his vehicle in a modern, indoor, multi-story garage operated by appellant in conjunction with a large hotel in downtown Nashville.

In practicality the operator does assume control and custody of the vehicles parked, limiting access thereto and requiring the presentation of a ticket upon exit. As stated previously, the attendant employed by appellant did not testify, but he told appellee's husband that the vehicle did not come out of the garage through the exit, which he controlled. This testimony was not amplified, but the attendant obviously must have been in error or else must have been inattentive or away from his station. The record clearly shows that there was no other exit from which the vehicle could have been driven.

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