The First Department determined the restaurant’s (Dolphin’s) motion for summary judgment in this action alleging negligence on the part of a valet parking service (APV) with which the restaurant had contracted was properly denied:
A restaurant providing valet parking services can be held liable for the negligence of the service whose attendants are alleged to have caused an accident to a third party. This is the case even where the service is an independent contractor with which the restaurant has contracted … .
This duty arises [under Espinal] when there is an ability and opportunity to control the conduct of the restaurant’s contractors and an awareness of the need to do so. Thus, Dolphin cannot assert that it signed a contract with the valet parking service and then “covered its eyes with a blindfold”; rather, Dolphin was required to select a company “with, at the minimum, both appropriate insurance and competent drivers”. Defendant restaurant w … as able to decline to enter into any contract for valet services it felt insufficient, and therefore in the best position to protect against the risk of harm.
Dolphin similarly failed to demonstrate that it did not create an unreasonable risk of harm to others or that APV entirely displaced its duty to maintain the valet parking area safely … . Indeed, the evidence showed, inter alia, that the restaurant and the valet service communicated on a daily basis to determine proper staffing. The restaurant, further, obtained parking spots for the valet service to utilize on its behalf. The restaurant informed the valet service in advance of functions so that staffing could be arranged. The parties’ agreement similarly provided that service was provided “as requested” by the restaurant, and that it was the restaurant’s obligation to provide the schedule for each week.
Dolphin may also be liable under the doctrine of ostensible agency or apparent authority and thus estopped from denying liability for an entity it held out as its agent … . Evans v Norecaj, 2019 NY Slip Op 04029, First Dept 5-23-19