If my neighbor’s contractor consented to the theft of my personal property and dumped garbage on the corners and I am fined for his actions, can I sue?

Over the summer, my neighbor hired a contractor to renovate an apartment in their 2-family home. At the very end, rather than requesting a dumpster and dumping all the garbage from his work into it, he hires some random persons off the street and they put the garbage on the corners at the end of our block.They put this garbage in front of two businesses. While we are away, the 2 people used our garbage cans and filled them and deposited then at the corner. A city agency is called, and they get our building number. The city official

comes fines us for the not having our weeds cut on a city-owned street, a plot where a tree had once been, which the city was required to fill in immediately after removing a dying and rotting tree. The city official leaves a summons for me and my wife to appear in court. This has escalated, and it will hopefully not cost us too much to fight. The contractor and his actions are directly responsible for what we have to deal with now. I also have a grievance with the judgment used by the city agent to target us for what happened. Can I sue the

contractor? Can I also sue the city agent for his poor judgment?

Asked on December 12, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

1) Yes, you can sue the contractor: an employer or business is responsible for the actions of those whom he/she/it hires, which actions are done in the course of their work or employment, and so the contractor is responsible for what the people it hired did. They acted wrongfully in taking and using your property (garbage cans), and their wrongful actions are causing you to incur costs and losses; therefore you can sue the contractor employing them for this.
2) Municipal employees are not responsible for poor judgment--only for deliberately wrongful acts or acts outside their power/authority. You must likely cannot sue the agent.

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