Well, the Pennsylvania Superior Court was asked this very question in a case of first impression, Moranko v. Downs Racing, PICS No. 15-0930. The answer was decided by an en banc panel 6-3 that ultimately held “No” a valet does not have a duty to withhold a patron’s car keys even if he/she thinks the patron is too drunk to drive. In reaching its decision, the Court compared the situation between the patron and the valet to that of a bailor and bailee, the valet service being the bailee with a duty to relinquish control to the bailor once a demand is made. The Court explained that once the patron demanded his car the valet lost control of it despite the person being clearly too intoxicated to drive.
In this case, the decedent’s mom sued the Mohegan Sun for allowing her son to retrieve his car from their valet service, leave the casino in an intoxicated state and drive himself to his death by car accident. The lower court granted the casino’s motion for summary judgment finding insufficient evidence that the decedent was served while at the casino and because there was no cause of action in Pennsylvania permitting recovery against a valet for returning a vehicle to an intoxicated person. This decision was originally upheld on appeal last year in a split three-judge panel decision and again en banc just this month.
If you are injured in a car accident by a drunk driver, contact the Delaware County Attorneys at The Pagano Law Firm. Schedule a free consultation with their experienced attorneys to discuss your rights.