Where goods have been committed to a bailee, and have either been lost or been returned in a damaged condition, and the bailee's liability depends upon his negligence, the fact of negligence may be presumed, placing on the bailee at least the duty of producing evidence of some other cause of loss or injury.
A car owner parked his vehicle at a commercial parking lot. The car was subsequently stolen from the lot. The car owner filed an affidavit outlining the damages, and the trial court rendered judgment for him. The appellee contends that the trial court did not investigate as to the actual damage amount to the vehicle. Additionally, he argues there was no fact-finding of the car owner’s negligence.
Did the trial court’s lack of investigation into negligence overcome the car lot owner’s presumed liability?
No, the court held the defendant’s negligence was established as a matter of law.
The court held that the amount of damages listed in the affidavit was established as a matter of law. The defendant/appellant could have filed a counter affidavit if he wished to contest it. Additionally, the court held that the parking lot owner’s negligence was also established as a matter of law and no fat-finding was necessary to support it. The parties’ bailee-bailor relationship created a presumption of negligence which the defendant was unable to overcome.