What is our liability if a customer left his watch and hat accidentally in our gym so they were set aside for him but the watch is now missing?

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What is our liability if a customer left his watch and hat accidentally in our gym so they were set aside for him but the watch is now missing?

He calle, and our staff found the hat and watch and put them in the lost and found for him. About a week later, he came in to retrieve the items but it looks like while the hat was still there, the watch was stolen. He is claiming that the watch retails for $375, and that we owe him the money by becoming liable as soon as we found the watch and set it aside for him. I was not sure what legal code this would fall under, but is this true? We do not have any signage about not being responsible for lost or stolen items.

Asked on May 14, 2015 under Business Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The signage may not have mattered here.  Once you undertook the obligation to hold the items for him you created a bailment situation where you put yourself in the position of being responsible for its safe keeping.  If you have an insurance policy read it and see if you are covered.  Otherwise, he is going to have to prove the value of the watch and you will need to negotiate it.  Good luck.


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