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attyadvisor, Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 6715
Experience:  29 Years of Criminal Law experience
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Private Parking Garage Structure Property Damage The premise

Customer Question

Private Parking Garage Structure Property Damage
The premise of the case is the following:
-I approach the entrance of parking structure that is equipped with automated lift gates with the intent to park from late evening until around midnight.
-The lift gates operate by reading the user's credit card, no ticket is given.
-I fail to make the gate open after several attempts at inserting and retrieving my credit card, at which point a parking attendant assisted me and I was able to get in and park the vehicle.
-A couple hours later past midnight I return and attempt to exit the parking structure, as instructed by the attendant earlier, by inserting the same credit card used into the machine operating the exit gate. I was unsuccessful.
-Several attempts later, I was still unable the gate. No one was around the gate to provide assistance. I noticed there was an "intercom" button in the machine to call for assitance. Someone answered and said there would be an attendant there to help me shortly.
-Perhaps 5 to 10 minutes later (maybe more), no one showed up to assist. Pressing the intercom button again did not get a response.
-I then procedded to lift the gate using my vehicle, as I believed I was going to be trapped in this garage for a further considerable amount of time. I became indignant of the situation, as I feel no business should be able to detain you or your property and especially due to negligence to maintain/upkeep their equipment or provide an alternative means of operating the gate (which they did when entering in order to get customers in the garage).
-I was contacted by a private investigator, presumably hired by the garage operator, who left me a voicemail explaining I had damaged the gate and I was going to be liable for dagames. He requested I contacted him back to get an address so he could send an invoice. He then treatened with legal action, explaining the event could be charged as a misdemeanor. He gave a 1 business day time frame to respond before contacting the authorities.
I would appreciate you elaborate on the following :
1) What are my legal options in this case.
2) What are the lawful requirements of privately operated garage establishments as it regards ***** ***** / egress and property retrieval.
3) In case of a settelment where I'm required to pay for the claimed damages, do I have any rights to request an explanation of the amount sought and to a 3rd party estimate? I have the feeling the amount that will be requested will be exorbitant. I also suspect this may be a new clever scam, in which they prey on people's urgency, emergency, and dignity as a means of entrapment.
Thank you very much.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 6 months ago.

Good morning, and thanks for contacting Just Answer. I think you can rule out "scam" on the part of the parking lot. My suggestion is to wait for the bill and then contact your insurance carrier with a full explanation of how you were compelled to do what you did. They may defend the case for you on a reservation of rights, because their policy I am sure excludes intentional acts. But try that anyway.
You have many options. You can tell them to go fly a kite, and see what they do. Actually it will be their insurance company. You should wait to see the bill and obtain a breakdown of the charges. You can also obtain your own estimate from other repair services. That will be helpful of the matter comes down to a court case. In such case you may raise the defense of contributory negligence against the parking facility because they had to help you get in, and the attendant should have anticipated that you would need assistance and exiting. That's not a guaranteed winner though, because they can claim you could have taken a taxi or Uber and they would have been happy to reimburse you $50 it cost you as opposed to having to fix the equipment for whatever that cost. An out of court settlement would seem prudent for all parties.

I hope that I have provided excellent service and, if so, would love a 5 star rating. If not, please let me know how I can further assist you. There is no additional charge to you for rating me. A bonus is not required, but is always appreciated.

Thanks again for using JUST ANSWER.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Doing nothing is not an option as it will result in me having to contest criminal charges, I would rather avoid that instance as much as possible. Contacting my insurance will likely result in the same outcome, as the case will be taken to court. I would much rather settle without any charges being made through the authorities.Can you answer question 2 above please. When is it considered reasonable to exit a parking structure when no attendant is present. Can you provide the relevant statutes in Michigan? I'm sure they are under reasonable obligation to provide ingress/egress. This will help to establish a share of liability to their operation.
Question 3 above, can I lawfully compel them to provide the breakdown and estimates.
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 6 months ago.

The threat to bring criminal charges is fear tactic which is designed to get you to roll over and play dead as far as paying them whatever they wish. I could search cases and statutes in Michigan from now until tomorrow morning and I doubt that I would find a single case or statute in Michigan that covers your exact facts situation. I'm sure Michigan has never passed a statute or rendered a case decision that gives official permission to driving through a parking garage exit barrier if it fails to work properly. It falls into the general category of damages to property, and includes elements such as intent, negligence, relationship etc. I'm 99% certain that no prosecutor would attempt criminal charges. All you were trying to do was get out of someone's building. In cases like yours, a prosecutor will always tell the complainant that it is a civil matter between him and you, and to settle it as such. Their liability is what I described in my prior response, that is, their employee knew that you would have trouble getting out with your , because you had problems trying to get in. Plus, they ignored your call for assistance. They definitely have a share of the liability. Yes, you can require breakdowns and estimates of the damage. They'll get you whatever you want if you show willingness to negotiate a settlement.

Thanks again for using JUST ANSWER.

Expert:  Irwin Law replied 6 months ago.

Hello again. I hope that I have provided excellent service and, if so, would love a 5 star rating. If not, please let me know how I can further assist you. There is no additional charge to you for rating me. A bonus is not required, but is always appreciated.

Thanks again for using JUST ANSWER.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Kindly Expert opt-out to the question page. Thank you.
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 6 months ago.

I am not sure what you mean by Opt out to he question page. You apparently do not understand what I have been telling you, and I think you would be better served by a phone call, which I will now offer you.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I wanted to get a free second opinion using my membership and the operator helping me over the phone made that reply in the system. I don't know what that means in your case, but please do allow others to see the question if that's under your control.
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 6 months ago.

I will opt out which takes me out of this thread entirely. This eans that the next person to answer will be the one who is credited with answering you, even if they just agree with me. Good luck in getting your situation resolved.

Expert:  attyadvisor replied 6 months ago.

I am a different Attorney as the Attorney you were working with graciously opted out so you would not pay any fees for a send opinion.

I have to agree with the first Attorney. I see no criminal intent on your part and criminal charges are fear tactic. You were not trespassing. There is damage to property and that is unfortunate but based on the circumstances there was an issue with the your ability to have ingress and egress into the garage. A prosecutor would suggest that this is a civil action and needs toi be handled as such..

I have reviewed cases on this subject and they are pursued as civil actions. If you came into the garage with the intent to break the gate for no reason other than to cause property damages and everything was functioning properly with the garage that would be a different.

That being said if they are going to threaten criminal charges and you want to be prepared for anything that might come your way I would suggest setting up a FREE consultation with a local Attorney. Knowing that you have received the advice of counsel and are prepared to defend against criminal charges will result in them backing off as far as any further threats. I don't disagree with you as I cannot imagine being detained on the way out after all that occurred. The garage needed to maintain their equipment so it would be operational.

Can you tell me where in Michigan this occurred so I can provide a link for local Attorneys that provide FREE consultations that can level the playing field for you? Further, each municipality has their own code that covers private parking lots and garages. For example this is the link for Grand Rapids http://Each municipality has their own code for Parking lots and garages. For example this is for Grand Rapids

This is absolutely and issue for your respective insurance companies. This is a civil matter.

Expert:  attyadvisor replied 6 months ago.

Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter. It would be my pleasure to continue to assist. If you would be kind enough to rate my service positively so I will receive credit for my work I would appreciate it.

Thank you for using JA. We appreciate your business.

Expert:  attyadvisor replied 6 months ago.

I believe I have answered your questions. The Attorneys on the site work with the customers in good faith as the only way we receive credit for our work is if the customer rates us positively. Thank you for your consideration.