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Shamrock Hilton Hotel v. Caranas

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Brief Fact Summary.

The Caranas sued the Shamrock Hilton Hotel (Hotel) for negligent delivery after the Hotel delivered the Caranas’ lost property to another party who claimed to be the owners of the lost item.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A bailment is created when a guest accidentally leaves personal property at a hotel.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

In Duncan v. Smith the Court quotes from C.J.S. wherein it lists the elements necessary to make an out-of-court statement admissible under this exception to the hearsay rule, as follows: summarizes these factors as: (1) Declarations made by a deceased person as to facts presumably within his knowledge, if relevant to the matter of inquiry, are admissible in testimony as between third parties: First, when it appears that declarant is dead; second, that the declaration was against his pecuniary interest; third, that it was a fact with respect to a matter of which he was personally cognizant; fourth, that declarant had no possible motive to falsify the fact declared.

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Facts.

The Caranas ate at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel (Hotel) where Mrs. Caranas left behind a purse with $13,000 worth of jewelry. The hotel busboy gave the purse to the restaurant cashier and the cashier delivered the purse to another party who claimed to be the owner of the lost item. The Caranas filed suit and the trial court granted judgment to the Caranas.

Issue.

Whether a bailment is created when a guest accidentally leaves personal property at a hotel?

Held.

Yes. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. Because the Caranas were staying at the Hotel, the Hotel owned a duty of reasonable care to return the purse to the Caranas. The Hotel is liable for both the purse and the jewelry.

Dissent.

(Johnson, J.) Neither party intended to create a bailment and the Hotel had no knowledge of the Jewelry located in Mrs. Carana’s purse. It is not reasonable to expect such valuable items to be located within a purse.

Discussion.

Property does not need to be intentionally transferred from one party to the next in order to create a bailment. A bailment develops when the person who lost the property hoped for the person who finds the property to keep the property safe. If the finder, bailee, fails to keep the property safe, then the bailee failed to exercise ordinary care.


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