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Thread: Question regarding a lawsuit

  1. #1
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    Question regarding a lawsuit

    If an individual has belongings inside of a room that he was once renting, and the items go missing after the renter moves out, does he have reasonable grounds for a lawsuit IF he voluntarily left the house unlocked, and there are several people who have been in and out in the process?

    Here's the brief scoop -

    As I have posted previously, my mother's estate is for sale, and it's being divided between her children. We were renting it out to a couple over the summer, up until October. It was well noted that one of the garage doors does not lock, so all you need to do is lift the garage door up, and it'll give you access to the garage, which in turn gives you access to the house.

    The house has sold (but is not yet occupied by the new buyer), so the renters moved out in October, but left a few belongings in the garage. They had returned to the house early this month to recover their belongings, but they were gone. Now, keep in mind that five of us routinely go to the house to clean, remove anything that needs to be removed, and take care of the home. The renters are threatening a lawsuit over the loss of their belongings. They are not targeting anyone in particular, but they did file a police report. No body has anything to go by.

    Now, obviously, it could have been anyone that was responsible for their missing items. Any of the other 4 could have accidentally thrown it away, assuming it was items that had belonged to my mother. It could have been anyone in the neighborhood who knew the garage door was always "open". It could have been any passerby who had been staking out the home.

    In reality, what are the chances of a lawsuit sliding, and whom would judgment even be placed against?

  2. #2
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    The law is going to vary wildly from State to State, so someone from WA is going to have to give you the scoop.

    Some things to consider that might affect the outcome:

    Did the renters have permission from the family to leave some of their goods behind?
    If they did not, was the family aware that they had left goods behind?
    If yes, did anyone ask them to remove their stuff?

    This and many other questions will determine the level of responsibility you had for their goods and the level of care you needed to exercise. If they left the goods there with the families knowledge or permission (especially if they paid for the privilege), then there is likely some level of responsibility. However, their knowing that the garage did not lock would mean that they assumed some level of risk.

    Does WA law allow for partial liability? If it does, I'd guess that some portion of the loss would be assigned to your family. If not, it'll hang on who was more responsible, which takes us back to the questions.

    IANAL.

    From a moral standpoint: They knew the risks and chose to take them anyway. Holding you responsible ignores the stupidity of their actions.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron1124 View Post
    If an individual has belongings inside of a room that he was once renting, and the items go missing after the renter moves out, does he have reasonable grounds for a lawsuit IF he voluntarily left the house unlocked, and there are several people who have been in and out in the process?

    Here's the brief scoop -

    As I have posted previously, my mother's estate is for sale, and it's being divided between her children. We were renting it out to a couple over the summer, up until October. It was well noted that one of the garage doors does not lock, so all you need to do is lift the garage door up, and it'll give you access to the garage, which in turn gives you access to the house.

    The house has sold (but is not yet occupied by the new buyer), so the renters moved out in October, but left a few belongings in the garage. They had returned to the house early this month to recover their belongings, but they were gone. Now, keep in mind that five of us routinely go to the house to clean, remove anything that needs to be removed, and take care of the home. The renters are threatening a lawsuit over the loss of their belongings. They are not targeting anyone in particular, but they did file a police report. No body has anything to go by.

    Now, obviously, it could have been anyone that was responsible for their missing items. Any of the other 4 could have accidentally thrown it away, assuming it was items that had belonged to my mother. It could have been anyone in the neighborhood who knew the garage door was always "open". It could have been any passerby who had been staking out the home.

    In reality, what are the chances of a lawsuit sliding, and whom would judgment even be placed against?
    In short, they don't really have a leg to stand on. They can try to sue, but it really seems to be a waste of their time and money.
    "If we were to ever consider citizenship as the least bit matter of merit instead of birthright, imagine who should be selected as deserved representation of our democracy: someone who would risk their daily livelihood to cast an individually statistically insignificant vote, or those who wrap themselves in the flag against slightest slights." - agenthex

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