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Old 09-01-2009, 17:09   #16
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Been in similar situation with large corporation. After numerous phone calls, emails and faxes over three months requesting payment for lost lugage on a cruise line I sent a fax to customer service and copied corporate headquarters and legal dept with a full history of all previous communications, names, dates, receipts for lost property, etc.

I sent a copy of the letter and claim form I prepared to send to small claims court. I stated the letter was going out the next day if I did not get a reply. Had an answer from the legal dept of the cruise line the same day and a check was mailed the next day.

Document everything, take photos of the damage, get receipts. Fax, phone and email to appropriate parties and save a record of everything you do, everyone you contact and the date of the call. If no results within a reasonable time THEN inform them that you are filing a claim in small claims court. It will cost them more to go dispute the claim than to pay. If they do not appear I believe they lose by default.
Well, the big difference is that you were indisputedly a paying customer with an express or implied contract. In Cliff's case the Hyatt can claim that they have no liability because he was at their dock illegally or not at their dock at all, and Hoffman didn't do it; or if he did, he was acting beyond the scope of his employment (that one is probably a loser).
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Old 09-01-2009, 17:56   #17
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Originally Posted by slomotion View Post
Well, the big difference is that you were indisputedly a paying customer with an express or implied contract. In Cliff's case the Hyatt can claim that they have no liability because he was at their dock illegally or not at their dock at all, and Hoffman didn't do it; or if he did, he was acting beyond the scope of his employment (that one is probably a loser).
Quite correct regarding the difference in the situations and legal claims. The similarity I was referring to was little guy vs big corporation.

Cliff does seem adamant in pursuing a claim but am guessing more to prove the point than to recover the cost of repairs (yes or no Cliff?). Regarding costs to file, I am in FL and researched the cost but that was about ten years ago. However at that time filing and court costs were not too much, somewhere in the $50-$100 range if I recall. This can be determined in advance.

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Old 09-01-2009, 18:24   #18
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My advice is to get a voice activated recorder, put it in your shirt pocket where it can't be seen and see if he is stupid enough to admit it again and get it on tape. Play it for his boss etc. Make copies and send to Coporate. Also great in small claims court. Not illegal to record in a public place and generally is admissable in court. Never let go of the orginal, only copies until issue is resolved. Is that a warrant or warning, either way you shouldn't go back. Save my idea for next time!
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Old 09-01-2009, 20:21   #19
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Cliff,

I'd be careful about getting all riled up over this.

I put myself in the shoes of Hyatt Management for the moment.

------------------------------------
I get a call from legal. They say that some guy is threatening litigation over alleged activity down at the dinghy doc. He said that one of our employees damaged his property.

I immediately get on the phone and call the person that is responsible for the dinghy doc......the conversation goes something like this:

Mr Hoffman, I just got a call from legal. He said that one of our employees allegedly damaged a boaters property. I want you to be sure that anyone using our doc is doing so legally. If there are any issues, call the police and/or the Coast Guard. Do not handle it yourself.
-------------------------------------------

Now Mr Hoffman calls the Coast Guard every time that someone anchors their dinghy near the doc. Those reefs are protected and there is a heavy fine for damaging the reef. I can only imagine the havoc that this guy could cause for you and others.

Not worth the aggravation in my book.
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Old 09-01-2009, 22:24   #20
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I think this is actually pretty funny.

A guy ties up to a private dock, he KNOWS it is a private dock, and he thinks he has rights to do so because it is "below the tide line" (what dock isn't???)

I wonder if he would allow anybody and everybody who wanted to tie their dinghy without asking to HIS boat when it was anchored out "below the tide line".

Give me a break.
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Old 09-01-2009, 23:11   #21
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I do feel sorry for him. Its totally wrong to damage someones property like that. But if someone wanted to pirate my boats slip while I am not there, using the same reasoning they could.
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Old 10-01-2009, 01:49   #22
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At least if you drag him through court and loose, it will send a strong message to the hotel and to him. You might cause them to change their policy for others.
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:36   #23
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This sounds like two people not respecting other's rights.

Though not a lawyer I often have to use small claims court here in Texas for past due receivables.

The Florida Lawyer (previous poster) gave you good advice. No lawyer will touch your case unless you pay up front. (probably $3000-$5000)

There are not enough damages for a lawyer to work on contingency. (ie: If damages=$1000., he would get approximately $400. + expenses, and if he needs an expert witness, add a couple of thousand more)

Maritime Attorneys will laugh at you, and they dont deal with nickel and dime cases.

You can still file in small claims and represent yourself. Hyatt will have to decide whether they want to spend money on a lawyer or pay you off. I wouldnt be surprised if they pay you off. Be prepared to negotiate and hard.

What I think I would do is file a criminal complaint with the police for vandalism. It would be less effort on your part and you get some satisfaction. Plus someone just might call you and ask what can be done $$$$$ to get you to drop your complaint.

Though the manager had no right to damage your property, you were probably wrong for tying to his dock.

If Hyatt had the proper signs stating "For Guests Only", the manager could possibly have locked and chained your dingy and demanded you pay a dock fee.
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:52   #24
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As I think most folks who have been there will confirm, Key West is not a great place for transient cruising sailors, unless you are loaded with bucks to rent a mooring that includes some kind of dinghy privilege. My dinghy was cut loose from the Key West public 2 hour dock when I went to check in. Folks in the anchorage just laugh at me when I told them I had parked there. I guess I should have suspected when I observed the $10 a day dinghy dock overflowing with dinghies and the public short term dock completely empty. They told me that I was lucky it was not stolen or sunk by the local kids. But in travelling through all of the both US Coasts and 7 Central American countries I never saw a place more hostile to transient vessels who try to use their own hook or crappier holding ground.
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:58   #25
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word

thanks for all your replies. i never planned to pursue this in a court of law, i was simply looking for legitimite illegal accusations that i could threat their headquarters worth, and get some sort of small retribution. my dinghy will be fine with some natty cans and 5200.

i will give you a break greatketch. though i would imagine boats tied off to mine would be a hazard to my own well being as opposed a boat on a public beach tied down with 3/4 inch line to a grouned wooden pillar.
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Old 10-01-2009, 04:54   #26
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Glad you didn't just let it go.

You should not have tied up...there. But its an easy situation to get into. Cutting your dinghy was malicious and way out of line. Reminds me of people who would drop 2000 lb bombs on rock throwers. But there are people like that, along with people who consent to that..? Imagine if you were a Mafia thug and you broke the guys legs for the damage he initiated. I think he'd get the message but you'd be lowering yourself to scum mentality. I truley am glad you didn't just let this go. IF the person had simply left a note..."Do not leave your boat here again" you would have got the point and gone somewhere else. Don't go back there, you'l likely get arrested by his relative. But do contact thier lawyer...he'l likely let the idiot know he can't damage other peoples property.
That way when I tie off to his dock, I won't have to break his legs.
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:04   #27
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My own views are not like the one above.
Appreciate it is not right to let guys like this harbour bloke get away with criminal damage - but surely the cost in even worry lines and lost time makes it not worth chasing this up.
Take the higher ground - stop thinking about it at all.
Let them / him sit and continue being the bad people, you are not going to change that anyway.
You simply fix the damage and get on with living the good life.
Good luck
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Old 10-01-2009, 12:08   #28
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My own views are not like the one above.
Appreciate it is not right to let guys like this harbour bloke get away with criminal damage - but surely the cost in even worry lines and lost time makes it not worth chasing this up.
Take the higher ground - stop thinking about it at all.
Let them / him sit and continue being the bad people, you are not going to change that anyway.
You simply fix the damage and get on with living the good life.
Good luck
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True...this is probably the best choice of action. I remember a story some time ago about a cruiser anchoring off a small village in Mexico (I think). He tied his little tired wooden dinghy onshore to a tree and when he returned it had been stolen. He then proceeded to spend 2 weeks on that beach, under that tree building a new dink from scratch. All the time whistling and singing like he was having a great time...and he probably was. He felt the lesson to the town was to see him everyday in good spirits while the thief's had to hide the whole time. There had to be a certain amount shame to the village also.
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Old 12-01-2009, 02:00   #29
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IANAL but there are two separate actions here.

A person tied up to a private dock - The owner of the dock has not pursued this so the point is entirely moot.

A dinghy was willfully and intentionally damaged by a person who admitted it.

I would leave the Hyatt out of it. Repair my dinghy at my cost and sue the individual who did it in small claims court. Maybe name both to cover the bases. You can bet if you name both the Hyatt will cut this guy lose and try to get the moeny from him. Big corporations are like that.

Although not significant in the case, I would also file a police report so I had that handy when I went to claims court. If the police interview the person who did it and he admits to them he did it, I would insist on charges being pressed on the individual.

For those who think the parking of the dinghy is germaine to the discussion. Imagine you parked your car in the wrong place - willfully or not - it was a reserved parking spot for the president of the bank say. The bank can have you moved, towed whatever. They cannot send a goon out to flatten your tires and smash your windscreen.
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Old 31-01-2009, 11:44   #30
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I think Slomotion's advice and Ex-Calif's points above made a lot of sense to me.

Related to those points, I don't think you can assume tying to and possibly putting your own body on a private dock located in the United States is a matter of maratime law.

I do believe that when it comes to trespassing (which is what you did in my opinion), the owner of a property generally has no obligation to protect the trespasser or their possessions,(As they would with someone who was invited) but also has no right to intentionally harm the tresspasser or their posessions.

If I were in your position, I'd probably let it go - but that's me. If I were to take it farther my argument would be that had my dingy been damaged by their boat docking, damage because they moved it to use the dock, etc, I would be owed no compensation, but since it was intentionally damaged, I am owed compensation. The fact that I was trespassing does not give you the right to intentionally harm me or my property.

Of course in your case, they'd probably deny they intentionally harmed it and have you arrested for trespassing.

The lack of public docks and general attitude to transients and those who anchor out in SE Florida is one reason I prefer the Bahamas.
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