Usual disclaimers: I’m not asking for legal advice. You’re not my attorney. I’m not your client. Etc. . . .
I was the defendant in a “Claim and Delivery” case a couple of years ago. I lost, thru my own admitted negligence, seven family photographs lent to me to for the purpose of making copies (which I did).
The plaintiff filed the charge, claiming that I was actually still in possession of the photos, but unwilling to turn them over. The plaintiff also refused to accept any of the copies I had had made.
The plaintiff had placed a dollar amount of $2000 on the value of the photographs.
The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff, ordering not only that I pay the dollar amount, but that I return the property. Failing that, my house was to be searched to recover the property.
My opinion (from a non-legal standpoint) was that the plaintiff would be due the actual value, and not any imputed sentimental value, and a review of state law (again from a non-legal standpoint) on ‘Claim and Delivery’ on the surface seemed to corroborate this.
I asked the opinion of two different attorneys, and both told me the same thing: You’re probably right. That probably was a bad decision. But to hire someone to research case law and represent you in court in an appeal could very easily cost more than the original judgment. But then, if there were precedents affirming the judgment, I’d have the that to pay in addition to the attorney fees.
So I bent over and took it, although I was allowed to pay it off in installments.
The question: If you have any knowledge of this kind of thing, what is your understanding of the law in a case like this? I did find a court case documented somewhere that concerned with a moving company that had lost several thousand photographs, and the judge’s verdict in as many words said that the plaintiff was not due any monetary compensation for sentimental value (and I don’t recall whether it was a “Claim and Delivery” case, either). However, it was several states away, and the local attorneys said that that probably wouldn’t hold any sway locally.
This was in the past, and is a done deal, so there’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s just something that’s annoyed me for a long time.