LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A nice Vegas vacation ends with damaged luggage. But getting compensated isn't as easy as you might think. 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean explains why one family plans to take a local cab company to court.
"It's not right. It's not right at all," says Catherine Stawinski of Colorado.
She has a complaint with a Las Vegas cab company.
"Deluxe cab has been nothing but a headache," Stawinski said.
It all started back in May. Stawinski and her family were checking out of the Wynn Hotel.
"My husband and I and our four daughters, two under two, so we had our hands very full," Stawinski said.
The family was in the taxicab pick-up area, to get a ride to the airport.
While loading their bags and a stroller, they realized everything wasn't going to fit. So they started moving their stuff to an SUV.
"I was actually already in the car trying to get our babies' car seats and our daughters in. The next thing I know, I see everybody kind of waving their hands around," Stawinski said.
As soon as they had everything out of the first vehicle, it dove off, followed by a Deluxe Taxi. But the cab ran over a couple of bags still sitting on the ground.
"I don't think he even saw or knew that he hit anything. They flagged him down and said you're dragging some things," Stawinski said.
One of the bags the cab ran over, included some family electronics.
"Anybody who travels with kids knows you got to have your phones, your iPads, your laptops, everything to entertain them," Stawinski said.
These pictures show damaged tablets belonging to her daughters, and other personal items. Stawinski says Wynn security took a report and the cab driver was cooperative.
"He did give us his license and registry and insurance information," Stawinski said.
After that, Stawinski says her family rushed to the airport for their flight back home.
"I didn't know it was going to be such an uphill battle. I really didn't. I thought, he ran over our stuff. The stuff was damaged. The stuff will be replaced," Stawinski said.
But that was five months ago. Since then, Stawinski says the cab company has refused to accept responsibility. Her family isn't getting reimbursed.
"They should be ashamed of themselves. They really should. To put people through this, for something where there's no question of liability," Stawinski said.
Stawinski reached out to 13 Action News for help. We contacted Deluxe Taxicab Service, which pointed us to the decision by their insurance company. It found Deluxe isn't responsible since the luggage was sitting in a quote "...travel lane which is in regular use by taxicabs and other vehicles."
"I was just floored. It's a loading and unloading zone. There are pedestrians, there are dogs, there are kids, there's luggage," Stawinski said.
"There's probably a whole lot of Stawinski's out there in the world that have suffered from this type of incident," says Consumer Rights Attorney Christopher Storke with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
He says in a case like this, you have to consider every variable.
"Where exactly were their belongings? Did they accidentally place them where the drivers were passing by? Or was it clearly within that lane where a guest can load their belongings?" Storke said.
TOO MANY QUESTIONS
In this case, several people may have also been moving the luggage; Stawinski's husband, hotel staff, or the driver. Unanswered questions lead many companies to dispute claims.
"Oftentimes you'll have a company that will drag it out to the fullest extent possible," Storke said.
Storke says Stawinski did the right thing by taking pictures and filing a report with security. But he points out, what she really needs is a written confession from the driver.
"You would have to have the driver actually state, 'Oh I'm so sorry. It's all my fault. I saw your things there, I tried to go around it but I ran over it,'" Storke said.
NOTHING IN WRITING
Stawinski says the driver was apologetic but admits she didn't get anything in writing.
"I believe he said to my husband, 'Sorry I didn't see it. I wasn't expecting it.' Something along those lines," Stawinski said.
$2,500 IN DAMAGES
By Stawinski's estimate, the damages add up to about $2,500 and she plans to take legal action.
"At this point, just getting the items replaced and having some accountability of, 'Our driver was wrong, items were damaged... It just doesn't seem fair that they could stall, drag their feet and just pretty much hope that we're going to go away," Stawinski said.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
Storke says if Stawinski does decide to sue, she needs to understand her battle is just beginning.
"The bottom line is, you're going to be dragged through a long small claims process to be able to even obtain what you're seeking," Storke said.
We reached out to Wynn Resorts for this story. They issued this statement:
"We understand and are sympathetic about the guest who placed their own luggage on the ground and we believe the responsibility to replace it (the damaged luggage) clearly rests on the taxi company that accidentally drove over it."