Customer’s lost item

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Customer’s lost item

We just bought an existing business and the new management started at the beginning of this month. This customer left his item about 5 weeks before we purchased this business, and asked the former owner to store it until he gave another call. The customer was notified that we are not sure about the item’s location and after all of the frustrating conversation with him, he said that he will call his lawyer. I said that we are not responsible for it; the former owner is. Are we 100% responsible for items have been lost during previous ownership? The business that we took over is not an LLC or corporation.

Asked on August 18, 2017 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the business is not an LLC or corporation, you are right: the former owner is liable or responsible. A non-LLC or corporation is not its own legal "person" and has no existence apart from the owner(s); the owner(s) are the business. Therefore, whoever owned it at the time item was taken in and lost, and/or whomever promised to safeguard the item--i.e. the former owner--is responsible.


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