Is the rightful owner of a vehicle responsible for costs incurred when someone purchased a stolen vehicle?

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Is the rightful owner of a vehicle responsible for costs incurred when someone purchased a stolen vehicle?

Our truck was stolen and sold to someone, when it was recovered we had to go to a property hearing to determine rightful ownership and it was returned to us. The other party that had purchased the truck is saying they are going to sue us for the money that they invested into the truck. Can they do that? We had no knowledge of the sale and have received no money or goods for the truck.

Asked on October 21, 2016 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you are NOT liable for the fact that someone else stole your truck and illegally, without right or title, sold it to someone else. You did nothing wrong--you did not defraud the alleged buyer, for example--and a person is not responsible for the criminal acts of 3rd parties (e.g. the thief) not under their control. If the alleged buyer tries to sue you, while you would have to respond to the suit (failure to respond means you lose automatically, by default; at that early stage of litigation, the court does not check to see that the suit is valid), you have a good defense and furthermore, could potentially countersue the alleged buyer for frivolous litigation.


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