Valet Gives Keys of Porsche to Wrong Person Who Drives Off With It. Who is Liable For the Theft?

A n employee of a valet parking service for a hotel property in Houston allegedly gave the keys of a 2014 Porsche Panamera to the wrong person — which turned out to be a mistake worth approximately $120,000.00, as the person drove off with the car and has reportedly never been recovered.

Valet Gives Keys of Porsche to Wrong Person Who Drives Off With It

Carlo DiMarco handed the keys of his car to someone who works for an independent valet parking service of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Houston by the Galleria hotel property in Houston last year to stay at the hotel for the weekend, according to this article written by L.M. Sixel of the Houston Chronicle.

His car was reportedly gone the next morning when he attempted to retrieve the vehicle.

“The events of that night are now at the center of a lawsuit filed recently in Harris County District Court against Hilton Worldwide, the franchise owner, the property management company and the parking vendor”, according to the article. “The complaint alleges negligence and fraud and seeks unspecified damages between $200,000 and $1 million.”

Surveillance video footage purportedly shows two men walking up to the valet stand. The attendant gave one of them the keys to the car, which was parked in front of the hotel instead of in the garage. The unidentified men drove off in the car. The incident was reported to the Houston Police Department; and law enforcement officers viewed the aforementioned surveillance video footage. The car can be tracked remotely — although the monitoring signal stopped working several hours after it was stolen.

This case appears to be rather straightforward, as Carlo DiMarco should easily get either his car returned to him or its monetary equivalent — right?

Think again.

Who is Liable For the Theft?

None of the defendants in the lawsuit were willing to comment.

Despite the parking attendants wearing uniforms identifying them as being affiliated with uniforms of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Houston by the Galleria hotel property, valet services are provided by an independent contractor — so the hotel is supposedly not liable for the theft because DiMarco did not park the car with the hotel, but with an independent company that offers services to guests of the hotel.

HDH Tenant is the franchise owner of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Houston by the Galleria hotel property.

“Scottsdale Insurance Co., which is part of Nationwide, represents the valet parking service”, according to the aforementioned article. “According to a letter it sent DiMarco, Scottsdale Insurance denied the claim because the property damage policy doesn’t include theft. The insurer did not return a call for comment.”

The company through which DiMarco insured the Porsche — which he owned for only slightly longer than one year and had fewer than 5,000 miles clocked on its odometer — only offered him $68,000.00 to replace it. Acceptance of that offer meant that not only would he lose approximately $50,000.00 of the value of the car; but he would also be required to waive his legal rights to recover the full value of the vehicle.

DiMarco continues to pay $2,000.00 per month in car payments — and the duration of the loan is six years. The valet claim ticket is all he has left from the incident.

The 36-year-old owner of a financing company for used cars in Austin figures that his Porsche Panamera “was chopped up for parts or was immediately put into a metal shipping container to be sold overseas.”

Summary

The article claims that DeMarco “arrived at the Doubletree on May 25, 2015, for a weekend stay.” May 25, 2015 was on a Monday; so that statement might be inaccurate — not that that information is all that relevant to this incident.

Despite Carlo DiMarco not doing anything wrong, he unfairly will not be fully compensated for what had happened to him — unless he wins the lawsuit, of course.

One major issue that I have with companies hiring contractors and “disguising” them as part of the company is that they want for you to think that everything is all part of one harmonious company — until trouble occurs; and suddenly, the company wants nothing to do with the contractor and the game of “pass the buck” comes into play.

Often, you may not even realize all of the independent contractors who represent companies with whom you deal — until there is a problem; and then the runaround begins.

That is prevalent throughout the travel industry, as — in addition to valet parking service companies, restaurants and gift shops being contracted by lodging companies — airlines usually contract out their regional flights to independent companies as well. I cannot tell you how many times I have had issues with regional flights supposedly operated by legacy airlines — only to be told that the legacy airline has nothing to do with the issue and that I need to contact the company operating the airplanes for the regional flights.

Another area is codeshare flights: complain to the airline which sold you the ticket; and they tell you to contact the airline which operated the flight. Complain to the airline which operated the flight; and they tell you to contact the airline which sold you the ticket.

Introduce a third party into the equation — such as Orbitz, Priceline, Expedia or some other travel agency which operates via the Internet — and the fun of “pass the buck” really begins…

…but the issues you and I face during these conundrums does not involve a car worth $120,000.00 — and the possibility of having my car stolen is only one reason why I always choose not to have a valet park my car…

6 thoughts on “Valet Gives Keys of Porsche to Wrong Person Who Drives Off With It. Who is Liable For the Theft?”

  1. Santastico says:

    I never, ever give my car to a valet. Never!!!!! Well, unless it is a rental car which is not really my car. I completely understand the mistake from the valet guy but the Porsche owner is the one to blame. I say that because I can see myself in his place. I own a brand new Porsche and that was the result of working hard and being able to afford it. I know how much money it costs and how hard was t earn that money. I also know that these cars will take a huge hit in value once you drive them out of the dealer lot. Thus, I take very good care of it since I know the insurance won’t be able to buy me a new one if something happens to it. Well, I know you may not be able to avoid an accident but I can avoid my car being driven by a stranger, parked God know where and handled like this valet guy handled this car. Thus, yes the valet guy was terrible but the owner was an idiot. Oh, and don’t tell me maybe he did not have an option to park the car himself. I can guarantee that option is available and if I am in doubt I won’t drive my car to the place. That is why Uber and taxi was invented.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is an interesting perspective, Santastico — one with which I cannot argue, as if I owned that same car, there is no way I would let some stranger drive it.

      In fact, I have even owned older cars which I did not want someone I did not know driving them.

      By the way, Carlo DiMarco now supposedly owns a Ferrari. I hope he does not attempt to valet park that car…

  2. LF says:

    How many decimal places suffice for approximately 🙂

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You got me on that one, LF

  3. Captain Kirk says:

    I hate valet parking. It isn’t the idea of parting with a few bucks to tip the guy either. It’s mainly the fact some stranger is driving my car. He/she could steal something from it, damage it, or like this idiot give it to the wrong person and off it goes. Now unfortunately I don’t own a car worth $120K or even one worth $68K, but mine is paid off, the last thing I want it for it to be damaged. The other main reason I hate valet is that I can retrieve my car faster than the valet. I can’t stand waiting 10 minutes for my car when I could get it myself in two. Whenever I stay in cities, (and I always have a rental) I always utilize the call ahead feature if the hotel offers it. Calling down from the room as I am about to walk out the door lets them get a “head start” so they can get it while I’m in the elevator, checking out, etc and I don’t have to stand there at the valet desk like a jamoke waiting for my car.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am thinking of writing a separate article pertaining to valet parking, Captain Kirk — and one reason is because my thoughts are similar to yours.

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