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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through September 10, 2014 » What is the legal process to take if someone damages your instrument? « Previous Next »

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Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4043
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 2:58 am:   Edit Post

If someone playing your instrument at a gig or some other jam session with our without your consent, just at your home or let's say a roadie, a drunkard or someone knocked it over on stage etc. etc. Assuming the person didn't feel they should pay for a new instrument or the cost of repair and you managed to resist causing them personal injury, what is the correct legal process you would need to go through to get the matter resolved?

Does it make any difference if you gave someone permission to use the instrument or not?

Do you have to inform the person of their liability for anything that happens before you hand them the instrument?

I know there are a few lawyers/attourneys/solicitors here so It would be good to get a proper legal view position rather than assumptions of what people like myself with no legal expertise think should happen.

Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3408
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 6:58 am:   Edit Post

Jazzyvee, I am interested in this information as well .
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 5760
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 7:26 am:   Edit Post

It depends on where it happens. Each State in the U.S. has different laws, as do different countries. From a more practical angle, one must consider the liklihood of not only obtaining a judgement, but collecting on it. I would venture that many, if not most, of the musicians who might be in a position to play your instrument probably don't have the funds to pay, even if ordered to by a court. And unlike the England of Charles Dickens, most jurisdictions don't have debtor's prison - or, to put it another way, you can't get blood from a stone.

Nevertheless, if legal action were pursued, the issues would likely be the defendant's negligence, and assumption of risk and/or comparative negligence on your part. Of course, Edwin is probably more up to date in this area than me as I took Torts almost 30 years ago.

Bill, tgo (one 'o dem lawyers).

(Message edited by Lbpesq on May 28, 2014)
Senior Member
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 480
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 7:31 am:   Edit Post

What Bill may be suggesting to us is not let anyone use your most prized equipment at gigs. This avoids the damage issue altogether. If they want to sample the goods, a private appointment might be better (JK, let them hunt down a store that stocks the brand in question). No good deed goes unpunished!
Senior Member
Username: byoung

Post Number: 1459
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 9:11 am:   Edit Post

Bill: what if someone damages your weed? :-) (note for NSA: your here is the plural second-person version, not Bill specifically)

(Message edited by byoung on May 28, 2014)
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 5764
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 11:30 am:   Edit Post

Now we are getting into the area of the man who buys a $50,000 box of cigars, insures it, smokes the cigars, and collects the insurance claiming the cigars burned up. The insurance company paid the claim. Then the man was arrested for arson!

Bill, tgo
Advanced Member
Username: hankster

Post Number: 364
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 3:02 pm:   Edit Post

Here in Ontario, the process would be to file a claim in small claims court (unless the damages exceed $25,000.00 - in which case you had no business letting a stranger touch the bass!) alleging negligence by the person who damaged the bass. That would cost you about $125.00 to file. But the issues of who was negligent, or whether the wrongdoer has the wherewithal to pay, could be eclipsed by an even greater problem, i.e. finding out just who that jerk who mashed up your bass was, or where they live. Every player in every bar has a name, but it is usually a first name only, or worse yet, a nickname - buzz, lefty, gobby, stevo, whatever, which may bear no relation to their real identity. And if the gig/jam isn't a regular gig for you, or you are on the road and it happens during a local open stage, god save you, since you are the outsider, while stevo, or whomever, is everyone's friend. So you may never actually have a real person to sue, even if you want to come back to wherever-it-is in order to pursue the claim.

When I was on the road, our rule was no one used our gear, and it made us unpopular with some clubs, but we avoided having to worry about these problems and while owners griped they mostly got over it. We did get a bomb threat once, but it was unrelated to the rule, and had more to do with our love of Gram Parsons than anything else.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 11341
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 4:25 pm:   Edit Post

How can anybody not like Gram Parsons?
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1782
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 5:50 pm:   Edit Post

"How can anybody not like Gram Parsons?" Seriously. A bomb threat?

I think it would be problematic to get someone to pay if they decided to be difficult about damage they caused. Without having specific facts and a specific legal forum, it's really hard to predict an outcome, and even then, it's a bit of a crapshoot.

Instead of going this route, I highly recommend getting insurance that covers these kinds of events. In the long run, it's probably cheaper, once you factor in time and aggravation. There have been several good conversations about insurance here.

I'm really hoping that this is a hypothetical, Jazzy!
Senior Member
Username: byoung

Post Number: 1463
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 5:57 pm:   Edit Post

Venue is Louisiana. Ready, go. (Louisiana is the only state based off of French/Spanish codes, not English common law, it's the only lawyer joke I know other than Shakespeare.)
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4046
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 2:26 am:   Edit Post

Of course it is for me Edwin but I'm sure it has happened to an unfortunate musician at some time.

Senior Member
Username: cozmik_cowboy

Post Number: 1700
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2014 - 10:17 am:   Edit Post

A guitarist I once worked for showed up before a gig & handed me his usual 335, plus a new ax; pristine Strat ('64 IIRC) in Sonic Blue with bound board & painted headstock. After I stopped drooling, I completed the stage set-up &, as always, put all guitars & basses on stands, tuned & ready to go
Club owner decides he needs to get in the closet backstage and, on his way out - yep, knocks the Strat over, chipping the headstock.
Guitarist gets up in my face, saying I shouldn't have put it out. I get right back in his, saying he told me he wanted to play it that night, that he knew I would put it on a stand, and if he didn't want it out he should have told me - and to go take it up with the club owner, as he did the damage.
He never mentioned it to me again. I don't know how it went between talent & venue, but we never played that club again.

Peter (who would still argue that the wrong was on the club owner)

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