Goncalves v. Regent International Hotels, Ltd.
New York Court of Appeals
58 N.Y.2d 206, 460 N.Y.S.2d 750, 447 N.E.2d 693 (1983)
Eliza Goncalves and Sarah Cecconi (plaintiffs) were guests in a hotel owned by Regent International Hotels, Ltd. (hotel) (defendant). Goncalves and Cecconi each had more than $1 million worth of jewelry, which they entrusted to the hotel to secure. The hotel stored the jewelry in a safe-deposit box that was located in a room built of plasterboard. Access to the room was controlled by two hollow-core wooden doors. The jewelry was stolen, and Goncalves and Cecconi sued the hotel for the value of the stolen jewelry. The hotel moved for partial summary judgment, contending that under General Business Law (GBL) § 200, its liability was limited to $500 because the hotel made a safe available to its guests. Goncalves and Cecconi responded that § 200 was inapplicable because the hotel’s safe-deposit box was not a safe within the meaning of § 200. In support of their position, Goncalves and Cecconi submitted an affidavit by an expert witness, who averred that (1) safe-deposit boxes were an inadequate way to secure valuables, (2) safe-deposit boxes could be breached in under 30 seconds, and (3) valuables should be stored in a vault rather than in a plasterboard room with wooden doors. The supreme court granted partial summary judgment to the hotel, ruling that the safe-deposit box was a safe within the meaning of § 200. The appellate division affirmed. Goncalves and Cecconi appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Cooke, C.J.)
Dissent (Jasen, J.)
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