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Damage to luxury handbag costs B.C. woman $1,468

A woman borrowed her friend's luxury chain wallet handbag to go to Dubai.
A woman must pay $1,468 for luxury purse damage, the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal has ruled.

A B.C. woman who borrowed a luxury handbag for a trip to Dubai must now pay $1,468 for damage to the purse, B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal says.

Andrea Elizabeth Knittig borrowed the Cassandre Saint Laurent Matelassé chain wallet handbag from Thanh Thuy Lam for the trip, said tribunal member Nav Shukla’s May 19 decision.

It was undisputedly damaged in Knittig’s luggage, Shukla said

Lam said the handbag was damaged due to Knittig’s negligence. She told the tribunal it cannot be restored to its original condition and has depreciated in value as a result.

Lam sought $2,251.20 in replacement value.

Knittig said she was not negligent, claiming the amount is more than what they previously agreed on when they discussed what she would pay for the damage.

Knittig said when she landed in Montreal on her return from Dubai, security searched her luggage and failed to re-secure its contents.

She said as she was about to board her final flight home from Montreal, the airline required her to check “this bag” in because the overhead bins were full.

“Given the handbag at issue is wallet-sized, I infer by 'this bag' the respondent refers to the carry-on luggage the respondent had packed the handbag in,” Shukla said.

On her arrival, Knittig discovered her luggage was missing. It was returned to her home the following day.

Knittig said when she opened her luggage, she discovered the interior securing straps were undone and several items had been disrupted and damaged.

“She further says that her liquids bag was cut open and a travel-sized glass bottle of perfume had broken and leaked in the luggage, including onto the applicant’s handbag, causing the damage,” Shukla said.

The tribunal said the situation was one of a gratuitous loan.

“The traditional rule with respect to gratuitous loans is that the borrower is liable for even the slightest negligence that causes damage to the loaned item,” Shukla said.

Lam said Knittig presented no evidence that the bag had been searched as she claimed is customary when a bag is opened.

“I find a reasonable person in the respondent’s circumstances would have ensured the items in her carry-on bag were properly secured before checking in the bag, and there is no evidence or suggestion that the respondent did this,” Shukla said.

She said Knittig failed to prove she had demonstrated reasonable care over the handbag.

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