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4.4-31 Bailor Bailee Relationship

New March 5, 2010

If you find that a bailment was created, the defendant <name>, as the bailee, was required to use reasonable care under the circumstances to protect the plaintiff=s property. The plaintiff <name> claims that when (he/she/it) requested the return of the personal property, the defendant (failed to return it/returned it in a damaged condition).

The defendant does not deny that the <specify property> was delivered to (him/her/it) and that (he/she/it) (failed to return it/returned it in a damaged condition). However, (he/she/it) claims that <specify the basis of defendant=s explanation>. 

Once a bailment has been established and the bailee (failed to return the property/returned it in a damaged condition), there arises a presumption that the damage or loss was the result of the bailee=s lack of reasonable care, or negligence. 

The defendant then must prove the actual circumstances involved in the (loss/damage) to the plaintiff=s property, thereby rebutting the presumption of negligence. This proof must include what caused the (loss/damage), and what, if any, precautions were taken to prevent the (loss/damage). It is not enough to only show that the property was (damaged/lost) by <specify cause of loss or damage: fire, theft, etc.>. The defendant must also prove the circumstances leading up to the <specify cause of loss or damage: fire, theft, etc.>, including any precautions that were taken. If the defendant has not proved the actual circumstances of the (loss/damage) and not successfully rebutted the presumption of negligence by evidence of precautions taken, due care exercised or otherwise, then you must find that the defendant was negligent in failing to protect the plaintiff=s property.

If you find that the defendant used reasonable care to protect the plaintiff=s property, then you must find for the defendant. If you find that the defendant did not use reasonable care to protect the plaintiff=s property, and if the <specify cause> was the result of the defendant=s negligence, then you must find that the defendant is liable to the plaintiff for damages. 

Authority 

Griffin v. Nationwide Moving and Storage Co., Inc., 187 Conn. 405, 408-10 (1982); F&F Distributors, Inc. v. Baumert Sales Co., 164 Conn. 52, 53 (1972); Barnett Motor Transportation Co. v. Cummins Diesel Engines of Connecticut, Inc., 162 Conn. 59 (1971); National Broadcasting Co. v. Rose, 153 Conn. 219, 225 (1965); Murray v. Paramount Petroleum & Products, Inc., 101 Conn. 238, 242 (1924); Welch v. Boston & Albany R. Co., 41 Conn.333 (1874); Alvarado v. Giedraitis, 33 Conn. Sup. 758 (1976); In re Central Rubble Products, Inc., 31 B.R. 865 (D. Conn.1983); 8 Am. Jur. 2d, Bailments ' 213 (1977). 

Notes 

There appears to be no substantial difference in the bailee=s obligation not to be negligent when the bailment is gratuitous and not for hire. National Broadcasting Co. v. Rose, 153 Conn. 219, 224 (1965). 

The committee acknowledges that there are two possible interpretations under the case law regarding the burden of proof: (1) when the presumption is overcome, then the burden shifts to the plaintiff to prove negligence; or (2) if the presumption is overcome, then the defendant is not negligent. Judges may apply either interpretation and charge accordingly. These interpretations may be reconciled if the plaintiff has submitted evidence of the defendant=s negligence, independent of the presumption of negligence. In such a case the defendant may have to overcome that specific evidence as well in order to prevail.
 


 

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