Am I Liable For The Stolen Skate Box?

I live in a apartment complex and I used this skateboarding box that one of my friends bought off someone for 50 dollars. The landlord threw away the box because it was blocking the parking. I was not the only one using this, a few other kids also used this. I had to leave early because I had a meeting to go to, and I told the kids using it to put it away when they were done. I left and the other kids were still there for about 20 minutes. Now the kid who owned the box is demanding that I pay him back the $50 dollars that he paid for it because I was responsible for it. Do I have to?

Unfortunately, because you were the person responsible for the box, the owner of the box can probably demand the $50 from you. The legal phrase for you borrowing the box is a “bailment.” In a bailment, a person entrusts a piece of property to another person. The person holding the property (the bailee) must protect the property so that the owner of the property (the bailor) can have the property back in the same condition as when he handed the property over. If the owner of the box lent the box to you, this created a bailment, and you were responsible for returning the box to him in the same condition from when you borrowed it. You may have “lent” the box to the other kids who let it be thrown away, but that doesn’t change your responsibility to the actual owner of the box. Technically, the owner of the box could file a claim against you in small claims court. However, you may be able to avoid the expense by convincing the other kids to help you reimburse the owner of the box. And in the future, remember that if you borrow something, you are still responsible for it, even if you lend it to another person.