Is a pawn shop liable for my property while it’s in their care?

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Is a pawn shop liable for my property while it’s in their care?

I pawned my $2359 lawn tractor and instead of it being inside the building they locked it to a boat trailer outside. I was extremely uncomfortable with this but have bills to pay and had no other choice. When I called and told them I would feel much better if it was inside she informed me there was no place for it and they can’t be held liable if its stolen. I was never told me that initially and they did not give that to me in writing.

Asked on June 9, 2011 under Business Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

They shop would be liable for the theft (or destruction, damage, loss, etc.) of your property while in its care, unless and only to the extent that they disclosed, prior to the transaction, that they would not be liable and you agreed  to such a limitation of liability, either explicitly in writing, or at least implicitly, by demonstrably pawning the item and leaving it in their care after being put on notice that they were declining responsibility. You should check the paperwork you received from the pawnshop, any notices, etc. to see what limitations, if any apply to this situation. The important thing is what was disclosed up front; they can't change terms after the fact.

Note that you could not, however, complain of or be compensated for damage done by the tractor simply being out in the elements--you accepted that risk when you allowed them lock it up outside, rather than at that point walking away from the transaction.


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