T. Bailey v. Copart, Inc., et al.
Sung Ho (Sean) Kim obtained a defense verdict in favor of all of the firm's clients in a three-day jury trial in connection with a lawsuit brought by Ms. Bailey. This case results from the loss of a jewelry box, and its contents. Ms. Bailey forgot a jewelry box that allegedly contained approximately $25,000.00 worth of jewelry inside a 2000 Ford Taurus that she had donated for $500.00.
Defendants admitted that - when Plaintiff's Taurus was cleaned for auction - a jewelry box containing one or more items were found. An employee then contacted Plaintiff and offered to safekeep the items. When Plaintiff later went to retrieve her items, the jewelry box, and its contents, could not be found. As a result, Plaintiff sued defendants on theories of breach of contract, bailment, and conversion.
Defendants denied being responsible for Plaintiff's jewelry and denied that a binding contract was formed. Since the offer to safekeep Plaintiff's jewelry was gratuitously made, without any benefit to Defendants, Plaintiff's breach of contract claim lacked consideration, an essential point needed for finding a binding contract. In support of that defense, Copart showed that there is no company policy that requires the safekeeping of personal items found in a donated vehicle. The decision to safekeep Plaintiff's items was done as a "good deed" by the company's employees, whom Plaintiff had also sued for the loss.
Defendants disputed the number of items that Plaintiff now claimed were inside her jewelry box. Sean Kim demonstrated that - based on the circumstances - the jewelry box could not have contained the number of items alleged by Plaintiff. In addition, Sean argued that Plaintiff's claimed list of missing jewelry grew with time, so that Plaintiff's claimed amount of damages similarly increased. To that effect, Sean argued in closing that this case was nothing more than a lawsuit of opportunity.
After the close of Plaintiff's case-in-chief, the Court granted Defendants' request for a partial nonsuit on breach of contract (for lack of consideration) and conversion (for lack of evidence of wrongdoing or intent). Plaintiff later abandoned her claim for involuntary bailment, so a verdict form on voluntary bailment was submitted to the jury. After about 30 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of all of the firm's clients on the remaining claim of voluntary bailment.