A consumer forum recently ordered Juhu-based Ramee Guestline Hotel and Jay Ambe Valet Parking to pay a total compensation of Rs 7.55 lakh to a patron of the hotel after his SUV parked by a valet was stolen from the premises in 2012. The order was passed ex parte, in the absence of the representatives of the hotel and valet parking agent.
Referring to the FIR filed for vehicle theft and the notice sent to the opposite parties, the Additional Mumbai Suburban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said, “It shows that the vehicle was entrusted to Guddu Jha, an employee of the opponent parties. Therefore, the opponents are liable for the act of their agent, for deficiency of service on his part.”
The complaint was filed by Ramgirish Sahani and his son, Rahul, from Khar. Rahul and his friends visited the hotel in a Tata Safari on November 3, 2012. Rahul gave the keys to Jha, who was employed by the hotel to park vehicles of guests, at 12.15am.
Rahul said Jha assured him about his identity and safe parking of the vehicle. A valet parking receipt was also issued to Rahul. The complaint stated that at 2.45am, when Rahul left the hotel, he produced the receipt and sought his car. But when Jha went to fetch the SUV it was missing.
Rahul alleged that Jha was negligent in parking the vehicle. Hence, Jha, being their employee the hotel and the valet parking agent were “vicariously liable” for the theft of the vehicle. The matter was reported to the police and Rahul issued a notice to the opponents, seeking compensation.
Along with the complaint, the Sahanis submitted the exit check, Jha’s statement and a copy of the FIR to prove Rahul’s visit and the parking of his SUV in the valet parking area through Jha. Calculating the compensation amount, the forum said that the documents showed that the SUV was purchased in 2009-10. “Considering 10% depreciation per year, the complainants are entitled to get Rs 7 lakh towards the cost of the vehicle, and Rs 50,000 towards compensation,” the forum said.
It held that Rs5,000 was to be paid to the Sahanis towards cost of the complaint.