Houston lawyer wants airport to pay for coat he left at food court

David Yates Mar. 9, 2010, 5:50am

Most airports remind passengers not to leave their baggage unattended. However, one plaintiff's attorney is contending it was also the airport's responsibility to remind him not to leave his pricey coat unattended.

William Ogletree, a Houston trial lawyer who worked in Beaumont at one time, sent a warning letter to the city of Houston, Continental Airlines and Westfield Concession Management on Jan. 18, threatening to sue all three entities if they did not pony up $800 for the "expensive black leather coat" he left behind while catching a flight to Las Vegas.

According to the two-page letter published by The Smoking Gun, on Dec. 30 while on his way to Gate C-19, Ogletree writes that he left his Polo coat at a Houston Intercontinental Airport food court while grabbing a slice of pizza. He never found it.

"I have diligently attempted but failed to determine which (of the three entities) is responsible for the area and who should have collected the coat, kept it in a secure place and held it for a reasonable period of time for the owner to locate it," the letter states.

"Each (entity is) pointing their fingers at the other. Regardless of whether they have the coat, they were responsible for securing it and keeping it in a safe place. I contend that ... the parties breached their duty under (Texas) bailment laws and could be responsible for intentional conduct and how they manage lost and found items for which they are responsible."

Phone calls by the Southeast Texas Record to his law firm, Ogletree Abbott LLP, have not been returned.

"This letter is to put all three entities on notice that if this matter is not resolved within 10 days, that suit will be filled in Harris County ... then all of you can have your lawyers blame each other in court," he writes states.

Ogletree also claims he distinctly remembers the waitress who attended him, because of "how badly she treated me."

"I am looking forward to discovering how all of you deal with lost property in the airport. I suspect your record is dismal and that employee theft runs rampant. You can avoid further legal action by paying (me) $800 ... This offer is only valid for l0 days. The amount will continue to increase according to the court costs and attorney's fees."

Attempts to contact Houston City Attorney Arturo Michel have been unsuccessful.

According to its Web site, the Ogletree Abbott Law Firm specializes in auto accident injury cases. The site features an online "Case Scale" feature to help potential clients determine if they need to hire a lawyer as well as an online "Settlement Calculator" to determine the amount the settlement should be.

Ogletree was formerly with the Jefferson County Criminal District Attorney's Office, according to the firm site.

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