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Court Rules on Robbery Case


In cases that involve more than one victim, juries, and sometimes judges can become confused and issue verdicts that are not in accordance with the law or with good common sense. A case that was adjudicated in the Supreme Court of Nassau County on September 3, 1975 is one such case. The incident was fairly straight forward. This incident occurred on October 22, 1969 at a jewelry store that was owned and operated by one man.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said he frequently purchased items from other people and sometimes took in items on consignment. On the date of this incident, he had in his safe a diamond ring valued at $12,500 that he had taken in on consignment for another man. While he was in the shop that day, two men came in to the store to look at watches. They left without making a purchase. They had seen the owner go to the back of the store to retrieve a watch to show them from the safe. On his way back out to the front of the store, he failed to shut the safe or re-secure the dividing door that was usually locked between the front of the store and the office where the safe was located.

A while later, the two men returned to the store and produced a .45 caliber gun and ordered the owner to comply. A said the owner fought with the men and was struck on the head during the altercation with a hard object that he could not identify. He fell down near the panic button for his alarm. He pushed the alarm and passed out. When he came back to consciousness, he was handcuffed an in the back of the store. The attackers beat him again. He struggled to get free and he reached for the gun. Somehow the gun was fired and the jeweler was knocked unconscious again.

This time when he regained consciousness, a New York Criminal Lawyer said he saw the assailants running out of the store. The police arrived shortly after that. The jeweler was transported to the hospital where he was admitted. The police discovered that the men had stolen all of the jewelry out of the safe in the office. It was an estimated $250,000 to $375,000 worth of diamond and gold jewelry. Among the items that were stolen was the client’s diamond ring that was on consignment in the store.

The owner of the diamond ring filed a lawsuit to recover the value of his ring. He claimed that the jeweler was at least partially responsible for the theft of the ring because he was negligent in leaving the office door unlocked and the safe open. The original trial court agreed and ordered that the jeweler was 50% culpable for the theft. The jeweler filed an appeal with his insurance company as co-appellate.

The jeweler and his insurance company maintain that it is not the jeweler’s fault that two men came in and robbed the store. They cite that the owner of the ring had his own insurance on the ring and has already recovered the value of the ring from that company. There is not cause to attempt to recover the damages from the jeweler.

The court of Appeals agrees. They state that it is not reasonable to place culpability on the jeweler because he was robbed. Even though the initial trial jury felt that a robbery was a foreseeable incident in the jewelry business, especially in a small family jewelry store. The court disagrees. They state that since the assailants were armed that the jeweler would probably have unlocked the door and the safe anyway. That puts the proximate cause of the robbery back with the robbery. They state that the gun was the cause of the loss and not the jeweler leaving a door unlocked and a safe ajar.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates a Nassau County Criminal Lawyer can help you if you are improperly held responsiblem whether you are involved in drug possession offense, a theft charge or a domestic violence matter. They have convenient offices throughout New York and Metropolitan area. A Nassau County Arrest Lawyer can provide assistance if you if you are arrested for a gun crime or similar act of violence.

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