If a watch repair shop is broken into, is the owner liable for a watch that was stolen?

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If a watch repair shop is broken into, is the owner liable for a watch that was stolen?

I do not have receipt but it was expensive.

Asked on April 5, 2011 under Business Law, New York

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may have a claim for negligence against the watch repair shop.  Negligence is based on the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable watch repair shop would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will have to prove breach of the duty of care, actual cause and proximate cause.

Breach of the duty of care occurred if the watch repair shop failed to take reasonable security precautions to safeguard your watch.  Actual cause means but for the watch repair shop failing to take reasonable security measures would your watch have been stolen?  If the answer is no which  appears to be the case, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means are there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the watch repair shop of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established and the watch repair shop is liable for negligence.  The issue here is whether or not the burglary was unforeseeable.  If it was unforeseeable, the watch repair shop may be able to claim that it is not liable.  Questions to determine whether or not the watch repair shop is liable would include whether or not there had been previous burglaries at that location or nearby and what type of security system the watch repair shop had to prevent burglaries.  Was the security system working when the burglary occurred? Was there a security system? 

Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in a lawsuit for negligence against the watch repair shop) would be the value of the watch or cost of a replacement.


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