Can someone sue a business owner if the owner gave an item free of charge?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can someone sue a business owner if the owner gave an item free of charge?

I am a manager of a resale shop which happens to be a charity for mentally

disabled persons. It is against the law to sell car seats. That being said, we give them rather than throwing them away. Could we be liable for the car seats we have given away, being that these people were given these cars seats amongst their own judgement?

Asked on March 16, 2016 under Business Law, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you could be sued if there was any reason to know or reasonably suspect that the car seat was defective (e.g. it has a crack which was visible, even if no one happened to notices it; it generally looks old or worn) and a child or other person is injured in or by the seat. People can be liable for giving away merchandise which they know or should know poses risks. There is a reason you can't sell car seats--used car seats can be dangerous. You are advised to not give them away, either: if a single child is badly injured by a seat you give away and you are sued, even if you win, you could spend signficant sums of money defending the suit...and if you lose, the judgment against you could be ruinous.

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 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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