How Do I Sue a Hotel for Damage to My Car in the Parking Garage?
When a person who is not a landlord agrees to hold property for another, a bailment is created.
There are different types of bailments- "bailments for hire" in which the custodian (bailee) is paid, "constructive bailment" when the circumstances create an obligation upon the custodian to protect the goods, and "gratuitous bailment" in which there is no payment, but the bailee is still responsible. There is a lower standard of care imposed upon the bailee in a gratuitous bailment, and the parties may contract to hold the bailee free from liability in any bailment. As the law of bailments establishes a lower standard of care for the bailee in a gratuitous bailment agreement, such an agreement or receipt should indicate explicitly that the bailee is acting without compensation. When a bailment is for the exclusive benefit of the bailee, the bailee owes a duty of extraordinary care. If the bailment is for the mutual benefit of the bailee and bailor, the bailee owes a duty of ordinary care. A gratuitous bailee must use only slight care and is liable only for gross negligence. To create a bailment, the alleged bailee must have actual physical control with the intent to possess. Physical control and intent to possess will be interpreted according to the expectations of the parties. If a court thinks that liability would be unexpected or unfair, it can usually find that the defendant did not have “physical control” or “intent to possess.” For example, courts are more likely to find a bailment of a car exists in a garage with an attendant than in a park and lock garage.
If a bailee fails to use proper care, it may be liable to the bailor for resulting damages. If a new item is returned used, the damages are typically the difference in value between the item when new and the item when used. The court often uses locally advertised rates for a similar product to establish values.
Venue is the local area in which a court, that has jurisdiction, may try a case. Jurisdiction is the geographical area within which a court has the right and power to operate. A court system may have jurisdiction to take a case in a wide geographical area, but the proper venue for the case may be one place within that area for the convenience of the parties. Jurisdiction is subject to fixed rules; however, venue is often left to the discretion of the judge.
Venue is the legally proper or most convenient place where a particular case should be filed or handled. Every state has rules determining the proper venue for different types of lawsuits. Normally, the venue in a civil case is the judicial district or county where the defendant resides, has a principal place of business, conducts business regularly, or where the accident or wrongful act occurred. The state, county or district in which a lawsuit is filed or a hearing or trial in that action is conducted is called the forum. For various reasons either party to a lawsuit or prosecution may move (ask) for a change of venue, which is up to the discretion of a judge in the court where the case or prosecution was originally filed. Reasons for such a request may include a clause in a contract stating that any action must be brought in a certain other venue, or pretrial publicity may be claimed to have tainted the potential jurors in that venue from rendering an impartial judgment.
Subject matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear the type of case brought before it. It is jurisdiction over the type of claim brought by the plaintiff. For example, a small claims court only has subject matter jurisdiction of claims up to a certain dollar amount. Federal courts have jurisdiction over claims involving federal laws. The answer will depend on the nature of the claims involved, such as whether it is based upon breach of contract or state or federal laws are involved. Subject matter jurisdiction refers to the power of the court to hear the issues involved in the case. Generally, if federal laws are involved, the lawsuit is brought in a federal court. If the claim only involves contract or state laws, then a state court would have jurisdiction.
In New Jersey, for negligence cases claiming not more than $3,000, a complaint may be filed in small claims court. If the amount of money you are trying to recover is more than the money limits, but less than $15,000, your case should be filed in the regular Special Civil Part. Cases in which damages are more than $15,000 must be filed in the Law Division of the Superior Court.
I suggest you contact a local attorney who review all the facts and documents involved. Fee arangments and willingness to accept cases vary by attorney and the facts in each case. Many attorneys wil provide a free initial consultation.