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Do I have a case? Lost property

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by Nver, Oct 12, 2021 at 7:24 PM.

  1. Nver

    Nver Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    New Jersey
    I'm from Erie and I traveled to a friend's place where I purchased a sailboat. I stayed there for a couple months with him to sail. Upon leaving I left a brand new pair of rudders for the sailboat behind.
    He called to let me know the rudders were there and asked what I would like him to do with them. I said to take them to UPS and I'll cover the shipping.
    He then said well that will be expensive, probably like $100. I responded with whatever it costs I will deal with it. And he agreed.
    Over a year went by and he never took them to UPS. We spoke about it several times over the year each time agreeing that he needs to take them to UPS and I will pay for it.

    I messaged him again just a couple days ago and he told me that he left them at his grandmother's house after he moved out. He said the house then had a flood and everything that was in the basement was thrown out (by his father, aunt and grandmother) including my brand new rudders. And he said that this happened 3 weeks ago. It wasn't until I asked again about the rudders that he decided to tell me this.

    This sounds to me like a bunch of Bologna because who would throw away a brand new pair of 4 ft long carbon fiber rudders just because they got wet without asking somebody who's they were...

    These rudders can't be bought, they have to be custom-made and they're very expensive. I'm pretty sure he's lying to me because his story sounds ridiculous.
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    When you left them there did you ask him for permission to leave them and get his agreement to take care of them.

    Or did you just leave them and he discovered them later?

    That's an important distinction in the law of bailments (google it) so answer carefully.
     
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  3. Nver

    Nver Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I simply forgot they were on his porch when I took the boat home. He then messaged me to let me know they were still on the porch. He asked what I wanted him to do with them and I said to just take them to UPS and I'll pay for the shipping. The rest you know. Taking care of them wasn't even a thought. He agreed to take them to UPS and I didn't have any reason to think that he wouldn't. But as the months went on...
     
  4. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    How far away do you live from him?
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    If you looked up bailments you would have seen that responsibility varies based on the circumstances. Initially you created an involuntary bailment which left him with no duty to care for your rudders. However, once he agreed to ship them, his duty became that of ordinary care. That you expected him to figure out how to package the rudders and front the shipping cost may have resulted in him procrastinating. But procrastination is not negligence and if the rudders were damaged by an unforeseen occurrence that would not be his fault. Another factor is that you let this slide for a year when it should have been obvious to you that he wasn't making good on his agreement.

    I can't predict how this would be resolved in court. Could go either way.
     
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  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Erie what? There appear to be 10-12 U.S. states (as well as a Canadian province) with a city and/or county called Erie, but none of them are New Jersey, so why is your post tagged as relating to New Jersey? Is that where your friend lives?

    I generally agree with what "adjusterjack" wrote in post #5 in this thread, but I think it's a pretty significant issue that you essentially abandoned the rudders -- both initially (you forgot them?) and then for "[o]ver a year" after that. As Jack noted, after a month or two, it should have been obvious that your friend wasn't going to ship them, and you should have made other arrangements.

    You are, of course, free to sue your friend (who will then, presumably, become a former friend) and/or his grandparents. You will have to sue where they live and will need to travel there for at least the trial, and your travel costs will be non-recoverable. As far as your chances of recovery, nothing you described indicates that your friend committed any negligent act, and his grandparents owed you no duty, so that's the only place where I don't really agree with Jack. Based on what you've written, I think you have a relatively low chance of succeeding.

    I suspect the better approach would be to see if the rudders can be covered under your friend's grandparents' homeowner's insurance.

    Until months and months and months went by and he didn't.
     
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  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Never rely on others to cure your mistakes.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    The person you asked to ship your junk that you forgot owes you no legal duty to cure your error/forgetfulness.

    Life teaches us lessons, so long as we're willing to learn.

    Life is also a tough taskmaster.

    Next time make sure YOU collect your junk (if you care about it) before you take your leave.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Hmm, I thought I said something like that when I wrote:

    Good point. There is often coverage for Property of Others in the Section I Property Coverage but it depends on how the flood/water damage occurred. And the grandparents would have to cooperate in invoking that coverage which may be problematic since it would be a claim against their policy.
     
  9. Nver

    Nver Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'm in Erie Pa, he is in NJ
     
  10. Nver

    Nver Law Topic Starter New Member

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    He moved out a couple weeks prior to this happening and left the rudders there knowing that the house was going to be sold. I highly doubt his grandmother would throw away his things without warning him first about what was going to happen. He knew well in advance what was going to happen, he did it on purpose. Here's a screenshot of our conversation prior.
    Also over a year ago he said he would take them to UPS. [​IMG]
     
  11. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Why would he do it on purpose and how would he know in advance that the basement was going to flood?

    And why did you wait a year? I understand forgetting them and asking that they be shipped to you but after a short time, you should have taken steps to retrieve them.
     
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  12. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Why didn't you just drive there and pick them up?
     
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  13. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Depending on where in NJ it's anywhere from a 6.5 hour to 7.5 hour drive each way.

    Not as practical as, say, having a shipping company pick up the items, pack them, and deliver them.
     
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  14. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Then perhaps an offer to pay the friend a little money for his time and effort to pack them and arrange shipping might have helped motivate the friend to do it. That also would have set up a breach of contract claim if the friend failed to come through.
     
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  15. Red Kayak

    Red Kayak Well-Known Member

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    Not as practical, but certainly possible if OP really wanted them.

    How much do these rudders cost?
     
  16. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    A pair of 4-foot long carbon fiber anything likely isn't cheap. Certainly worth a 12-14 hour drive.
     
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  17. Nver

    Nver Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Prior to moving out he told me "we selling the house this month and they are gone then" they as in the rudders. And I responded with "why would they be gone? Just UPS them and I'll pay for the shipping." Which he agreed to do but didn't multiple times. I didn't wait a year.
    Also why would they be gone because the house is getting sold he could have easily taken them with him when he moved out, they aren't attached to the house.
    On day one he messaged me when I got home to ask what we should do with the rudders and I said UPS them and I'll pay for it. We spoke many times over the year about it. My "steps" was to just have him UPS them and I'll pay for it, simple. You have to understand when someone is a good friend of yours you don't expect them to do this to you over and over again, and each time I'm thinking now he's going to take them to UPS...
     
  18. Nver

    Nver Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That wasn't even a thought because this was a good friend of mine and he agreed to UPS then, it was also worth the hundred bucks to just ship them instead of paying a hundred bucks for gas and driving for 14 hours.

    It would have been different if he said "no I am not going to UPS them". It would have also been a little f***ed up if he said that though like I said he was a good friend..
     
  19. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I'm right there with you the first time, second time, and third time. After that, it's pretty obvious that it's not going to happen and you would need to take other measures.
     
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  20. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    How do you know what the cost of shipping actually would have been? I suspect that the cost of shipping would have exceeded $100.
     

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