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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

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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