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Old 12-06-2004, 11:04 AM  
grandllama grandllama is offline
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Attorney (and wannabe) Advice Sought - Negligence

Thought I would ask on the board to our resident attorney's and law students...

As I posted last night, my storage unit was broken into over the weekend and a considerable amount of dj equipment was stolen.

My question concerns the storage unit operators.

Access to my storage unit was gained thru an unlocked, unrented unit on the poorly lit back side of the storage building. The thief(s) then burrowed holes through the walls (drywall / wood construction) of five other units before coming upon my storage unit. My storage unit was not full and the thiefs had access to the bolts holding my latch on and we're assuming they used tools stolen from another storage unit to remove the latch from the inside, then opened the door and removed my equipment and equipment stolen from the other storage units.

In my eyes, as entry was gained thru an unlocked, open unit, that management had known about for several months, the storage unit management was negligent. (Side note, the police also found another storage unit that was open that someone was living in)

Other opinions?
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Old 12-06-2004, 11:05 AM   #2
Saulbadguy Saulbadguy is offline
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Damn..that sucks. Sorry to hear that.
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Old 12-06-2004, 11:20 AM   #3
RedNFeisty RedNFeisty is offline
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What does the contract that you signed say? If it states that the Storage Facility is not responsible for any losses, then your screwed.

Sorry to hear and good luck.
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Old 12-06-2004, 11:21 AM   #4
RedNFeisty RedNFeisty is offline
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Besides, didn't you have insurance on all of your equipment. If not, that was pretty silly with having it in storage.
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Old 12-06-2004, 11:48 AM   #5
grandllama grandllama is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedNFeisty
What does the contract that you signed say? If it states that the Storage Facility is not responsible for any losses, then your screwed.

Sorry to hear and good luck.
Not in the contract. I have also found precendent that says even if the contract states that, it is unenforceable if the property is not maintained.

I've already contacted the insurance company and the agent thinks they won't pay this claim due to the way access was gained. (ie they didn't break into my storage unit directly... DJ insurance is a strange animal... and it wasn't covered by my homeowners since it was business equipment)
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Old 12-06-2004, 12:00 PM   #6
RedNFeisty RedNFeisty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grandllama
Not in the contract. I have also found precendent that says even if the contract states that, it is unenforceable if the property is not maintained.

I've already contacted the insurance company and the agent thinks they won't pay this claim due to the way access was gained. (ie they didn't break into my storage unit directly... DJ insurance is a strange animal... and it wasn't covered by my homeowners since it was business equipment)
I am no law student, but if the Insurance Company is holding the Storage Facility liable, chance are you have a great case against the said storage facility.
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Old 12-06-2004, 12:33 PM   #7
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With appropriate disclaimers that I have no idea what I am writing on my lunch break:

This would be a mutual benefit bailment. You bought a service and they got paid, so both parties benefitted from the arrangement.

Standard for negligence for mutual benefit bailment would be ordinary care, which means that you would have to prove that the storage facility operators failed to do what any reasonable storage facility operator would have done.

You would have to convince the fact finder, judge or jury, that any reasonable storage facility operator would have foreseen and prevented the particular events that caused the injury.

Criminal acts of third parties can be a defense, unless a special relationship and the criminal act is foreseeable. In this situation, theft from a storage facility, would seem to be a foreseeable crime that would impact the storage facility customer and the whole purpose of the arrangement would be to safely store property.

Sounds like you might have a case as long as the storage contract does not have any release of liability.

I recently researched mutual benefit bailment with injury from a criminal act of a third party for two different clients, so I think that is the state of the law in Missouri. Settled one on demand letters and drafting the other demand letter this week.

Bottom line: Is there any release of liability in the contract? If so, would have to check to see if it would hold up.

Otherwise, would the ordinary, everyday, reasonable storage facility operator had taken precautions that would have prevented this particular theft from occurring in that manner.
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Old 12-06-2004, 02:11 PM   #8
Yosef_Malkovitch Yosef_Malkovitch is offline
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Jettio-

I agree that theft might be foreseeable, but is this kind of theft reasonably foreseeable? If the thieves had simply cut his lock, then it definitely would have been foreseeable. But renting another unit several spaces down and burrowing through the walls would seem, to me, not to be foreseeable.

I remember that in tort law the type of harm must be foreseeable (you can't sue a construction company for negligence if their mis-placed barrels piss off a driver who then attacks you b/c it wasn't foreseeable that that specific type of harm would result) but I don't know that much about situations like this.

On second thought, since you've just done two cases like this, I'll shut up. I'm sure a "real" lawyer knows more than a 3L, anyways.

Now that I consider it, this would be more analogous to the flaming rat case anyways, which said that the means of harm is irrelevant as long as the type of harm is what should have been expected. Which means that, here, theft should have been expected and it's irrelevant exactly *how* the theft occurred.
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Old 12-06-2004, 02:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
I agree that theft might be foreseeable, but is this kind of theft reasonably foreseeable? If the thieves had simply cut his lock, then it definitely would have been foreseeable. But renting another unit several spaces down and burrowing through the walls would seem, to me, not to be foreseeable.
But they didn't. The storage place left another unit unlocked and the theives burrowed in that way.
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:33 PM   #10
jettio jettio is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosef_Malkovitch
Jettio-

I agree that theft might be foreseeable, but is this kind of theft reasonably foreseeable? If the thieves had simply cut his lock, then it definitely would have been foreseeable. But renting another unit several spaces down and burrowing through the walls would seem, to me, not to be foreseeable.

I remember that in tort law the type of harm must be foreseeable (you can't sue a construction company for negligence if their mis-placed barrels piss off a driver who then attacks you b/c it wasn't foreseeable that that specific type of harm would result) but I don't know that much about situations like this.

On second thought, since you've just done two cases like this, I'll shut up. I'm sure a "real" lawyer knows more than a 3L, anyways.

Now that I consider it, this would be more analogous to the flaming rat case anyways, which said that the means of harm is irrelevant as long as the type of harm is what should have been expected. Which means that, here, theft should have been expected and it's irrelevant exactly *how* the theft occurred.


I think it would be foreseeable if you find jurors or a judge who have seen Ocean's Eleven, its sequel, or any of those jewel or art-heist films.

That sh*t happens all the time.

Could just depend on the facts. But people hire storage facilities because they have valuable stuff and not enough room at home to keep it.
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