If a watch repair shop is broken into, is the owner liable for a watch that was stolen?

UPDATED: Apr 5, 2011

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If a watch repair shop is broken into, is the owner liable for a watch that was stolen?

I do not have receipt but it was expensive.

Asked on April 5, 2011 under Business Law, New York


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You may have a claim for negligence against the watch repair shop.  Negligence is based on the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable watch repair shop would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will have to prove breach of the duty of care, actual cause and proximate cause.

Breach of the duty of care occurred if the watch repair shop failed to take reasonable security precautions to safeguard your watch.  Actual cause means but for the watch repair shop failing to take reasonable security measures would your watch have been stolen?  If the answer is no which  appears to be the case, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means are there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the watch repair shop of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established and the watch repair shop is liable for negligence.  The issue here is whether or not the burglary was unforeseeable.  If it was unforeseeable, the watch repair shop may be able to claim that it is not liable.  Questions to determine whether or not the watch repair shop is liable would include whether or not there had been previous burglaries at that location or nearby and what type of security system the watch repair shop had to prevent burglaries.  Was the security system working when the burglary occurred? Was there a security system? 

Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in a lawsuit for negligence against the watch repair shop) would be the value of the watch or cost of a replacement.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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