Legal Corner

Contains current legal articles and discussions regarding Civil Recovery Law.

Maryland House Bill 1239

PRA Law Firm Takes Action To Defeat Harmful Maryland House Bill; Maryland Retailers and Consumers Win. Proposed Maryland House Bill 1239 Called For Repeal Of All Civil Penalty Remedies By Retailers Against Shoplifters And Dishonest Employees. Orlando, FL, May 4, 2015:  On March 4, 2015, Maryland House Bill 1239 was first introduced and read, calling for the repeal of Maryland Statutes Sections...

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Pros of Litigation

Courts encourage out-of-court settlements, making it clear that courts either expect or contemplate that victims of theft will likely attempt to resolve their disputes with theft offenders via demand letters before ever filing suit. In fact, some statutes require that a demand letter be sent offering to settle a civil claim before suit can be filed. Parties are encouraged to attempt to work out...

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For Civil Recovery The Age Of Majority Is Not Always Eighteen

In the United States and its territories, other than laws concerning consumption of alcohol, most people believe that once a person reaches eighteen years of age, provided they do not otherwise suffer from some legal incapacity or disability, that the person is considered an adult and is legally responsible for his or her own actions. As parents, many of us long for this day of being free from legal responsibilities of parenthood, even if it comes with some mixed feelings of whether your children can really fend for themselves, as many believe the magical age of 18 puts an end to being held legally responsible for the negligent or tortious acts of our child(ren). However, this may be an incorrect assumption when it comes to civil liability for theft from retailers by minors (i.e. “civil recovery liability”) and possibly other civil matters as parental/guardian liability for the negligent or tortious acts of minors is controlled by state law.

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Concealment = Shoplifting

It is a common misbelief that in order to commit the act of shoplifting, an individual must exit the store and permanently deprive the merchant of the unpurchased merchandise. The truth is, however, that in most states, an individual commits the act of shoplifting by taking actions that would cause one to reasonably believe that he intends to permanently deprive the merchant of the goods. Most states require that the merchant have probable cause (or reasonable grounds) to believe that an individual has committed an act of theft or is attempting to shoplift before making a decision to detain the individual to determine if their observation was correct. Probable cause or reasonable grounds is not limited to observing the individual exiting the store with unpurchased merchandise. In addition to clear cases of theft, such as when a person opens a product’s container, consumes the contents and fails to pay for the product, probable cause or reasonable grounds to detain and make inquiry can also be obtained by observing an individual conceal unpurchased merchandise or in some states, by the activation of EAS even if the individual was not observed concealing merchandise. The majority of states do not require that an individual exit the store in order to have a civil cause of action for shoplifting.

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To Promise or Not to Promise … That is the Question

Almost all states have statutes that protect retailers by providing a civil remedy that allows for the recovery of actual damages arising from incidents of theft. Actual damages are in addition to any civil statutory (penalty) damages the retailer may be entitled to and generally include restitution. In a previous article from our Firm, it was explained that even if merchandise is recovered in merchantable condition, there are actual damages. Likewise, and even less likely to be contested, when the retailer is not able to recover the merchandise or the assets taken by the theft offender, the retailer suffers actual damages. When a retailer suffers actual damages, the retailer has a right to request reimbursement for actual losses sustained in addition to any available civil statutory (penalty) damages.

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No Damage Does Not Mean No Damages

Many are under the assumption that a retailer does not sustain any damages if the merchandise stolen in a shoplifting incident is recovered in merchantable condition. However, this is not the case. Just because the merchandise is not damaged does not mean there are no legal damages.

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