The Law School Authority

Shamrock Hilton v. Caranas Case Brief

Summary of Shamrock Hilton v. Caranas (1972), Court of Civil Appeals of TX, 488 S.W.2d 151

Procedural history:  Hilton appeals ruling of trial court which rendered a judgment non obstante veredicto in favor of appellees bailors in a bailment case involving the loss of appellees bailors’ purse that contained valuable jewelry on appellant bailee’s premises.

Facts: Appellees were guests at D’s hotel.  They left a purse containing $ 13,062 in jewelry in the appellant’s restaurant, that was later found and returned to an unknown person by the cashier. Appellees sued alleging negligent delivery of the purse to an unknown person. The trial court found for appellees.

Issues: Did a bailment for mutual benefit of parties exist? >Yes.

Did appellants owe appellees a duty of care in returning the item of bailment? >Yes.

Holding: The appellate court, besides finding that the admission of out-of court statements made by the cashier did not constitute reversible error, found that a bailment for the mutual benefit of the parties existed, and held that appellant owed appellees the duty of reasonable care in the return of the purse and jewelry, and was therefore liable for its ordinary negligence.

Rationale:  A bailment was found to exist, and therefore appellants owed appellees a duty of care and were negligent.  In addition, the actual cause that produced the loss of the purse and its jewelry was wholly independent of the appellees’ negligence (in leaving the purse in the restaurant), and appellant’s primary duty of ordinary care to its paying guest was clear.

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