An operator may be required to exercise reasonable care to avoid malicious mischief to, or theft of, vehicles parked on a commercial parking lot (a going concern), even though the arrangement was "park and lock."
Appellee parked his car at the Parking Management, Inc. parking area which is enclosed within the Washington Hilton Hotel in this city. He was directed to a space by an attendant. He locked his car and kept the keys. He then opened the trunk in plain view of a group of employees and placed his lady friend's cosmetic bag in it and then locked the trunk. The rear of the car was exposed to the aisle. Upon his return, he found the trunk lid damaged from being pried open and reported it to the management. Appellee's car was damaged by vandalism. The lower court found for appellee. On review, the court affirmed the lower court's judgment because the circumstances created an implied duty of reasonable care by the appellant to protect appellee's car from malicious mischief and appellant violated that duty.
Was appellant required to exercise reasonable care to protect customers’ cars from malicious mischief or theft?
The circumstances created an implied duty of reasonable care by the parking lot operator to protect appellee's car from malicious mischief or theft. The lower court's determination that a breach of that duty occurred was not clearly erroneous.