Does a business’ waiver of liability go out the window if they were negligent?

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Does a business’ waiver of liability go out the window if they were negligent?

This is specifically regarding a gym. You see, I put my belongings in a locker they provided in

the locker room. I put a combination lock on it. When my workout was over I discovered that the lock had been cut and my wallet, keys and phone were taken. So we’re the possessions of a few other guests. The same guy hit every gym in town. They’re all the part of the same chain. Anyway, In order to get into the locker area, one must check in at the front desk. So

if the thief is not a member and was let into all 3 separate gym locations, is the gym now responsible for our loss?

Asked on October 9, 2016 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, the gym is most likely not liable: a business is not liable, or responsible for the criminal actions of a 3rd party, like this thief, in the absence of some unreasonable carelessness, or negligence which allowed the crimes. However, you cannot simply assume that the gym was negligent--you need *evidence* of their carelessness. There is no evidence cited in your question: the fact that three gyms were stolen from does not prove that the chain was negligent. For example, maybe he has a membership to all three gyms, and so may legally be in them, or was let in as a guest at the gyms. Or maybe he is part of the contracted cleaning staff, and has access that way. Or perhaps multiple thieves, each with access to a different gym, were involved--you have nothing but supposition that it was the same thief. Etc. Without evidence of negligence, you cannot hold the gym liable simply based on an assumption.


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