Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Indiana


My daughter was with another girl who was caught shoplifting at a local department store. My daughter was not found with any merchandise on her, did not intend to steal, and was not criminally charged/punished at all. However the stores attorney is attemptign to collect $100 as a ''fine'' for her role as accomplice. She did not steal, help to steal, she just did not alert security that the other girl was stealing because she was afraid. Can they sue us for refusing to pay the $100 and can they win?

Asked on 6/10/08, 11:03 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Samuel Hasler Samuel Hasler

Re: shoplifting

Yes, you can be sued but winning depends on the evidence of intent. How much then can win depends on the damage done.

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Answered on 6/10/08, 12:09 pm
C. David DuMond Law Offices of David DuMond

Re: shoplifting

Maybe I have too high an opinion of my colleagues, but this sounds too bogus to have been said by a real attorney. It sounds to me like the untrue, deceitful, lying manipulation typical of a debt collector. I say this because there is no such thing as a civil "fine". Tell these people to send you a written explanation for their demand. I predict that will be the last you hear from them. And if you do hear from them, it won't be over the name of any lawyer. So if my suspicion is true, these crooks have already violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and owe you a thousand dollars by falsely representing themselves to be lawyers. To make a long answer short, this is totally bogus, and they will never even file a case in court, let alone win one. Good luck.

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Answered on 6/10/08, 5:18 pm
Burton Padove Indiana and Illinois Lawyer, Burton A. Padove

Re: shoplifting

The description of the claim as a "fine" is inaccurate by the collecting attorney. However there is a part of the Indiana Code that allows for recovery of $300 ( 3 times a presumed loss of $100). I will explain that in more detail. I differ from the other attorneys who have answered this question. Indiana has a statute that allows a victim to recover for up to three times the value of something stolen. There is a special section on retail theft that presumes that the minimum loss suffered is $100 and using the triple damages multiplier the retailer can actually seek $300. There is also a provision for the recovery of attorneys fees and expenses of collection. I would not take this lightly. The real question though, is whether the retailer can recover from your daughter. You may want to look at the statute. Plug in the search term Indiana Code and then look up

IC 34-24-3 and other sections mentioned in that part of the code.

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Answered on 6/14/08, 10:49 pm

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