Portland, OR asked in Business Law for Oregon

Q: Can a store be liable if an employee consents to watching a customer's belongings and the items are stolen?

Oregon. Hypothetical. There are signs posted that the store is not responsible for lost or stolen items. If an employee were to agree to watch over a customer's items and the items are stolen, can the store be held accountable and potentially sued?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jim Boness
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  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: If the store was negligent for failing to properly train and supervise its' employees, or not implementing adequate policies to secure the customer's belongings, that store could face liability. Generally, the store will be liable if the employee's actions were within the scope of their employment, the store failed to properly train or supervise the employee, or the store did not take reasonable care to keep the premises safe for customers.

Having said that, there is usually not a clear answer to the question of a store's liability for an employee agreeing to watch a customer's belongings and the items being stolen. Especially considering the fact that the hypothetical company posted a sign indicating as such. This could lead to a finding that the employee was not acting within the scope of his/her employment, which might negate liability on the part of the company.

Unless the property was extremely valuable, this may not be a matter worth pursuing in court, as it may cost the hypothetical customer much more to bring to court then it would to replace the item and there will be no guarantees of recovery.

As always, this is not to be construed as legal advice, only general information. Please seek the help of a qualified and licensed attorney that can review the specific facts and circumstances of your situation.

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