Woman sues hospital after valet turns out to be car thief

David Yates Jun. 9, 2008, 10:10am

After giving her car keys to a valet service at a local hospital, a Lumberton resident was rather surprised to learn her car had been stolen. The vehicle was later recovered at a Louisiana gas station.

Mindy Harris claims Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital and AVP Nationwide "negligently failed to provide any signs with regard to their valet parking procedures."

Seeking exemplary damages for her troubles, Harris filed suit against the companies June 5 in the Jefferson County District Court.

On Sept. 18, 2007, Harris went to Memorial Hermann Baptist to take her son for an outpatient procedure. She wanted to valet park her brand new 2007 truck by the hospital's valet service, AVP.

According to the company profile, AVP is a nationwide provider of hospitality and parking solutions for healthcare facilities.

"At this time someone approached her and handed her a valet ticket and told her that he would park her vehicle for her," the suit says.

"When she returned two hours later, her vehicle had been stolen by this particular individual. She located her vehicle via OnStar and it was found at a gas station in Louisiana. As the police approached the individual, he ran off on foot with the Plaintiff's keys in hand."

Harris claims the defendants were negligent for not providing any signs with regard to their valet parking procedures, and did not secure the box that contained the valet tickets, which resulted in the thief having access to the valet tickets. The valets also allegedly failed to be in the provided uniform to distinguish them.

In her suit, Harris says "she would not have valet parked her vehicle had she known the lack of procedures that were being followed by this valet service."

She further alleges the defendants committed breach of warranty and breach of contract and also violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by intentionally misleading her.

She is suing for exemplary, special, consequential and general damages, plus mental anguish and attorneys' fees.

Harris is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by Provost Umphrey attorney Mark Sparks.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District.

Case No. E181-876

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