Winter is approaching as is the age-old dilemma—to check or not to check your coat.. Handing over your coat or handbag as you drink and dine is as customary as a $12 beer in New York City.  But what happens when you attempt to retrieve your coat and it is destroyed or worse, gone?

Before you check your coat, you should know:

  • The contents in your jacket or handbag are checked at your own risk so leaving $1000 in your jacket pocket is not a good idea and is not recoverable. The good news is that value of a bag itself may be recoverable
  • The bar is limited to damages of $200 unless they charged a fee for the coat check in which case they are responsible for full replacement value.  (Suggested donations at coat check don’t count, there must be a mandatory fee).

Under a negligence theory, the owner of the establishment is responsible if they failed to adequately safeguard the coatroom.  Neither of these theories applies if you simply leave your coat in the bar.

The best way to recoup your losses after coat check theft or coat check loss:

  • Don’t lose the ticket. Losing the ticket shows negligence on your part and you won’t be able to hold the coatroom responsible
  • Establish the value of your jacket. The bar will try to demand you provide a receipt of purchase but there’s more than one way to do this: by proof of purchase, catalog value, or photographic or eyewitness evidence of type of jacket.
  • Don’t pay any attention to what the sign says about limiting damages for lost clothing to $200. This Gadh will hold them responsible as the coatroom must show that: there was no fee for coat check; the room was adequately staffed; and checks were distributed to each patron.
  • Don’t take someone’s coat as a replacement for yours.  Two wrongs do not make the right jacket.