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DEFENDANT''S Bailment - Plaintiff''s vehicle is stolen from defendant car dealer''s lot.

Hartford County, Connecticut

The plaintiff contended that he conferred possession of his vehicle to the defendant for the purpose of maintenance on the vehicle. The plaintiff asserted that the vehicle was stolen while in the defendant’s possession and therefore the defendant was responsible. The defendant argued that it never received possession of the vehicle.

The plaintiff claimed that he brought his BMW to the defendant’s premises after hours and dropped it off in order to have the defendant change the oil the following day. The plaintiff testified that he parked the vehicle on the defendant’s lot and placed the keys in a night drop box. The following day he phoned the defendant to check on the status of the maintenance whereupon the defendant informed the plaintiff that the vehicle was not at the defendant’s premises. The vehicle was reported to the police as missing. When the vehicle was later recovered, it was deemed to be a total loss. A perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted for the theft of the vehicle. The plaintiff brought this action against the defendant claiming the defendant was responsible for the loss of the vehicle because the plaintiff had conferred possession to defendant thus creating a bailment.

The defendant argued that it never received possession of the vehicle and therefore there was no bailment and no corresponding responsibility. The defendant called its service manager who testified that, when he came into the office on the morning after the plaintiff claimed to have dropped off the vehicle, no keys for that vehicle were recovered from the night drop and the vehicle was not on the lot. The defendant’s witness testimony supported the defense that the defendant never received the plaintiff’s property. The defendant also called the police officer who investigated the theft. The police officer testified that there was no sign of forced entry into the defendant’s premises and no signs of theft.

The jury found in favor of the defendant.

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