San Francisco tourist sues Marriott after hotel gave customer’s luggage away to alleged criminal

SAN FRANCISCO — The investigative group at our sister station KGO is seeking into what lawyers argue is a loophole in the law that lets hotels throughout California to prevent paying out true damages to company.

Picture you booked a hotel, but the resort accidentally gave all your things away to an alleged criminal without examining for any valid ID. It happened in San Francisco to Bob Sabouni.

In accordance to the courtroom judgment, Sabouni missing $8,390.88 of his belongings. He sued the San Francisco Marriott Marquis and won. In a shock shift, Marriott successfully appealed the situation. But, the point out top-quality court docket choose overseeing the circumstance dominated that it was finished so unfairly.

This is how it occurred.

Bob’s story

What was intended to be a article-lockdown summer months getaway to San Francisco turned into a lawful nightmare for Bob Sabouni.

In June 2021, Sabouni and his pals checked into the San Francisco Marriott Marquis ahead of heading to a Giants game. Sabouni claimed his room was not ready, so the resort available to hold his baggage.

“Then we went on to the match and we had a excellent time. Giants won!” Sabouni said.

Afterwards that night, Sabouni arrived back to a major reduction.

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“Everyone’s things was there, apart from mine,” he stated.

Sabouni reported his baggage — which bundled a Briggs & Riley rollaway bag, a Tumi leather-based backpack, an iPad Professional, a MacBook Professional, a 4TB difficult drive with his social safety variety and seven decades of tax paperwork — was nowhere to be found.

“The subsequent early morning I spoke to the supervisor who said they were seeking into it and observed out they had provided my stuff to someone else,” Sabouni explained.

In accordance to the court judgment, lodge surveillance footage demonstrates a gentleman walking into the Marriott later on that afternoon, claiming he checked his bag but missing his declare examine.

“Remarkably, the Marriott permit the dude stroll into the back again room. He pointed at my bags and stated individuals are mine … The dude stated, ‘Is there any way you can establish it? Do you have tickets? Do you have ID?’ And the man said, ‘I have none of that,’ but just stated there’s a computer in that bag.” Sabouni stated.

“Absolutely sure sufficient, there was, and they just handed my stuff more than,” he added.

Sabouni said in the weeks that adopted, the hotel was unwilling to compensate him for his losses unless of course he presented receipts for every item. Frustrated with the system, Sabouni later on sued Marriott in tiny statements court docket and received.

“The decide awarded us $5,000, which was nowhere close to the practically $9,000 that I might lost, but I was pleased,” Sabouni reported.

The tale, nonetheless, would not conclusion there.

Lawful struggle

Marriott then appealed the case on the grounds of a law enacted in 1872 — also identified as the Inn Keeper’s statute — that limitations a hotel’s legal responsibility for guests’ belongings to $1,000. Marriott gained the charm, but not reasonably, according to San Francisco Outstanding Courtroom Choose Jeffrey Ross. He wrote:

“This is one of the exceptional situations the place the legislation does not permit the court docket to accomplish the equitable outcome.”

According to the court docket judgment, Ross highlighted the point the law is out-of-date, stating in aspect this statute “has not been revised to accord with the existing worth of baggage, clothes, and most notably laptop or computer equipment and its facts.”

“Rates have gone up enormously considering that this legislation was to start with enacted,” claimed Jim Wilcox, an economics professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Small business.

Wilcox explained selling prices of products and providers have multiplied by 20 to 25 given that this law was very first enacted in 1872. However, in 2022, motels in California are liable for products up to $1,000 — at most.

“Compared to when the legislation was 1st enacted, $1,000 then would be the equal, in genuine acquiring energy phrases, [to] a ceiling of about $25,000,” Wilcox reported.

Ross wrote in the courtroom judgment: “A single may well be expecting Marriott to recognize the aberration and in the interest of shopper relations, to fork out the judgment. Instead, Marriott appealed.”

KGO achieved out to the Marriott for an on-camera job interview, but hotel management declined to speak or remark.

Sabouni valued his stolen merchandise to be worth just about $8,400. But according to Marriott’s demo short, the lodge was only legally liable for $500, because of to this statute.

“It desires to modernize with the moments. Although the actual physical computer system may be worth ‘x’ dollars, what’s on there is well worth a great deal more,” claimed Relani Belous, founder of the Belous Law Company. “You have an market that has a get-out-of-jail-absolutely free card.”

The Inn Keeper’s Statute has not been amended in 42 years, leaving individuals like Sabouni having to pay the selling price.

“For me, it can be a make a difference of keeping them accountable for the safety of prospects and not offering them this defend,” Sabouni claimed.

Right after the enchantment, the courtroom ordered Marriott to pay out Sabouni $1,553 for a error designed by its individual personnel. Meanwhile, Sabouni explained to KGO that accounting for his losses, he is used properly about $10,000 making an attempt to fight this case.

The dilemma now: Is it time for the legislation to adjust?

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