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Ziva Jewelry, Inc. v. Car Wash Headquarters, Inc.

Alabama Supreme Court
897 So.2d 1011 (2004)


Facts

Stewart Smith worked for Ziva Jewelry, Inc. (plaintiff) as a traveling sales representative. Ziva Jewelry was a jewelry wholesaler. Smith drove his own vehicle to meet with potential customers and traveled with samples of expensive jewelry provided to him by Ziva Jewelry. Thieves go to the locations where jewelry trade shows are held and look for opportunities to steal the jewelry. Smith protected the jewelry by keeping it in his trunk, which he kept padlocked. Smith kept the key to the padlock on the key ring with his vehicle ignition key. Smith took his car to a car wash operated by Car Wash Headquarters, Inc. He gave his keys to an attendant, but Smith did not disclose that jewelry was kept in the trunk. When the car wash was completed, Smith went to the counter to pay for the car wash. Smith saw the attendant signal that his car was ready, and the attendant walked away from the car. Before Smith finished paying for the car wash, someone jumped into Smith’s vehicle and drove it away. The police recovered the vehicle a few minutes later, but the jewelry had been stolen. The value of the stolen jewelry was approximately $850,000. Ziva Jewelry sued Car Wash Headquarters, alleging that Car Wash Headquarters failed to exercise due care to safeguard and return the vehicle as a bailee. Car Wash Headquarters filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that no bailment of the jewelry had been created. The trial court granted the motion, and Ziva Jewelry appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stuart, J.)

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