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David Chait v. Town Hall

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK APPELLATE TERM: 9th and 10th JUDICIAL DISTRICTS


July 8, 2011

DAVID CHAIT, RESPONDENT,
v.
TOWN HALL, LLC DOING BUSINESS AS TELLERS AND MICHAEL BOHLSEN,
APPELLANTS.

Appeal from a judgment of the District Court of Suffolk County, Second District (Joseph Santorelli, J.), entered February 24, 2010.

Chait v . Town Hall, LLC

Appellate Term, Second Department Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and will not be published in the printed Official Reports.

Decided on July 8, 2011

PRESENT: IANNACCI, J.P., NICOLAI and MOLIA, JJ

The judgment, after a non-jury trial, awarded plaintiff the principal sum of $2,769.94.

ORDERED that judgment is affirmed, without costs.

Plaintiff commenced this small claims action to recover for damage to his automobile. At a non-jury trial, it was undisputed that plaintiff gave his automobile to a valet parking attendant at defendants' restaurant when he went to the restaurant for dinner. It was also undisputed that the vehicle was damaged while parked in a lot behind the restaurant. Defendants' witness asserted that there was no negligence. After trial, the District Court awarded plaintiff the principal sum of $2,769.94, finding that a bailment relationship was created and that defendants, as bailees, had failed to overcome a presumption of negligence by showing that they were not negligent.

Upon a review of the record, we find that the judgment provided the parties with substantial justice according to the rules and principles of substantive law (UDCA 1804, 1807; see Ross v Friedman, 269 AD2d 584 [2000]; Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d 125, 126 [2000]). The decision of a fact-finding court should not be disturbed upon appeal unless it is obvious that the court's conclusions could not be reached under any fair interpretation of the evidence (see Claridge Gardens v Menotti, 160 AD2d 544 [1990]). This standard applies with greater force to judgments rendered in the Small Claims Part of the court (see Williams v Roper, 269 AD2d at 126).

A bailment relationship was created when plaintiff surrendered the keys and control of his vehicle to defendants' valet parking attendant (see generally I.C.C. Metals v Municipal Warehouse Co., 50 NY2d 657 [1980]; Chubb & Son v Edelweiss, Inc., 258 AD2d 345 [1999]), which shifted the burden to defendants to show that they were not negligent (see Sealey v Meyers Parking Sys., 147 Misc 2d 217 [1990]; Motors Ins. Corp. v America Garages, 98 Misc 2d 887 [1979]). Defendants raise for the first time on appeal that they were not the bailees, but rather, that the bailee was the valet parking service, an independent contractor. Having failed to raise this issue in the District Court, defendants may not do so now on appeal (see Nash v Yablon-Nash, 61 AD3d 832 [2009]; Kalousdian v Kalousdian, 35 AD3d 669 [2006]). As defendants failed to rebut plaintiff's showing of negligence on their part (see Chubb & Son v Edelweiss, Inc., 258 AD2d 345; Sealey v Meyers Parking Sys., 147 Misc 2d 217; Sherber v Kinney Sys., 42 Misc 2d 530 [1964]), we find no basis to disturb the District Court's determination. Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

Iannacci, J.P., Nicolai and Molia, JJ., concur.

Decision Date: July 08, 2011

20110708

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