Wedding venue liable for missing cell phone?

Phone 5 was free upgrade- Went missing from wedding reception hall’s office after they had found it. Can I sue for the value?: My brother had his IPhone 5 on the table at my wedding reception, & when drinks were cleared, so was his phone. Fairly certain an employee took it. Then I received an e-mail saying the phone had been found, & we could pick it up in the office of the hall. When we got there, it was gone again. All they say is, “We’re sorry, we don’t know what happened to it.” The phone was a free upgrade on my brother’s plan, but the reception hall is demanding a receipt for any reimbursement. Can my brother sue or demand reimbursement for the value of the phone? The president of the hall keeps saying he will reimburse my brother for the cost of the phone, as soon as he sees a receipt- obviously, there is no receipt for a free upgrade, but the value of the phone is quite a lot, not to mention family photos!

Response (from Attorney Rob):

Sorry about your phone. You should look into getting a Samsung Galaxy. They are way better.

Anyway, so you are in a stand off with the Wedding Venue because you can’t give the guy a receipt for a free phone, so that he may compensate you for its loss. And he won’t give you anything without a receipt for that exact phone.

Have you gone to your service provider and acquired the cost of another phone (with the same contract term/plan)? If you have, then that’s what you need to show the Wedding Venue. Because ultimately, if for some reason you decided to sue in smal claims court, this would be your damages (I.e., what you would likely be compensated- IF you won). If you service provider threw you another free phone, then you are not damaged, and the Court would probably tell you to go away. however, if the phone is like $500-$700 bucks, then you got something…maybe.

Again, if you sued, there would probably be no value in any photos lost. You would have to convince the court why you keep sentimental family photos on your phone (if you are talking wedding photos, I’m sure the event was photographed by 1000 other people). In other words, they can’t be that important if they are still on your phone. It’s a bummer, but that is likely the result.

But here is another bummer, and the real kicker. Even if you were to sue the Wedding Venue, I think that they have a strong defense that they are not responsible for looking after your stuff. Are you sure that an employee took it originally? Maybe another guest took it? Were you drinking? These will be the questions that will get asked. Bottom line, you would have to really show that the Wedding Venue had something to do with the disappearance. Here’s why, they really don’t have a duty to safeguard your things even AFTER they have ‘found’ it for you. I think this is the case even though the guy has already told you that he would compensate you. That is just an illusory promise, and potentially might not be able to make it into evidence at your trial.

At the end of the day, I think that you should send a certified letter requesting the value of the phone, based on what it has ACTUALLY cost you to get your new phone (must be same or similar), include that documentation, and then see what the Wedding Venue does. Hopefully, you can get some cash out of it. Otherwise, it’s just a bummer.

Good luck!!!

Moral of the Story: Wedding Venue operators should let the Wedding Party know about its Lost & Found policies.