The Bailee’s Duty of Care
When the bailment is for the sole benefit of the bailor, the law requires only slight diligence on the part of the bailee, and of course makes him answering only for gross neglect. When the bailment is for the sole benefit of the bailee, the law requires great diligence on the part of the bailee, and makes him responsible for slight neglect. When the bailment is reciprocally beneficial to both parties, the law requires ordinary diligence on the part of the bailee, and makes him responsible for ordinary neglect.
Cowen v. Pressprich
-Pl. agreed to sell/deliver bond to Def. of $1000 value. Pl. ordered bond from a third bond house and they sent a wrong bond to Pl., who by mistake, sent this wrong bond to Def.
-The sending: Pl. gave bond to 17 year old messenger with a memorandum in an envelope. The youth took the envelope to the Def’s place of business, went into the delivery room. Two people were at desk, Q., of Def’s firm and employee, C. Youth dropped envelope through slot. Didn’t ask for receipt, only there from 1-1.5 minutes.
Q testified: C. and Q making loans when bond shot to desk, opened bond, statement calling for another bond. Q returned the bond to another boy who made away with the bond.
Involuntary Bailee: A person who has been put, through no act or fault of his own, in such a situation as that in which the defendants were put upon the delivery to them of the wrong bond. The bailment created in this case within the context of an involuntary bailment is called a constructive bailment.
-The involuntary bailee is not under the slightest duty to care for or guard the subject of the bailment, and cannot be held, in respect of custody, for what would even be the grossest negligence in the case of a voluntary bailment.
-If the involuntary bailee shall exercise any dominion over the thing bailed, he becomes as responsible as if he were a voluntary bailee.
Conversion: a voluntary act by one person inconsistent with the ownership rights of another
APPEAL: judgment for Def, dismissing the complaint.