State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_1 > GS_1-538_2

§1‑538.2.  Civil liability for larceny, shoplifting, theft by employee,embezzlement, and obtaining property by false pretense.

(a)        Any person, otherthan an unemancipated minor, who commits an act that is punishable under G.S.14‑72, 14‑72.1, 14‑74, 14‑90, or 14‑100 is liablefor civil damages to the owner of the property. In any action brought by theowner of the property, the owner is entitled to recover the value of the goodsor merchandise, if the goods or merchandise have been destroyed, or any loss ofvalue to the goods or merchandise, if the goods or merchandise were recovered,or the amount of any money lost by reason of the theft or embezzlement or fraudof an employee. In addition to the above, the owner of the property is entitledto recover any consequential damages, and punitive damages, together withreasonable attorneys' fees. The total compensatory and consequential damagesawarded to a plaintiff against a defendant under this section shall not be lessthan one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) and shall not exceed one thousanddollars ($1,000), except an act punishable under G.S. 14‑74 or G.S. 14‑90shall have no maximum limit under this section.

(b)        The parent or legalguardian, having the care, custody and control of an unemancipated minor whocommits an act punishable under G.S. 14‑72, 14‑72.1, 14‑74,14‑90, or 14‑100, is civilly liable to the owner of the propertyobtained by the act if such parent or legal guardian knew or should have knownof the propensity of the child to commit such an act; and had the opportunityand ability to control the child, and made no reasonable effort to correct orrestrain the child. In an action brought against the parent or legal guardianby the owner, the owner is entitled to recover the amounts specified insubsection (a) except punitive damages. The total compensatory andconsequential damages awarded to a plaintiff against the parent or legalguardian shall not be less than one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) and shallnot exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).

(c)        An action may bebrought under this section regardless of whether a criminal action is broughtor a criminal conviction is obtained for the act alleged in the civil action.

(c1)      For the purposes ofthis section, consequential damages shall include, but shall not be limited to:

(1)        The salary paid toany employee for investigation, reporting, testifying, or any other timerelated to the investigation or prosecution for any violation under subsection(a) of this section; and

(2)        Any costs, such asmileage, postage, stationery, or telephone expenses that were incurred as aresult of the violation.

(c2)      The owner of theproperty may seek payment for damages under subsections (a) and (b) of thissection prior to filing a civil action, by sending the violator a demandletter. If such a letter is sent, it shall be substantially similar to thefollowing:

                  "Ourrecords show that on (date), you unlawfully took possession of property from(store name/owner of the property), located in (city, state), without theconsent of (store name/owner of the property), without paying for the property,and with the intent of converting the property to your own use. In accordancewith G.S. 1‑538.2, we are authorized to demand that you pay damages ofone hundred fifty dollars ($150.00).

                  In the eventyou fail to comply with our demand for one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00)within 15 days from the date of your receipt of the notice, you may be heldcivilly liable for an amount not less than one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00)and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) in a civil action against youto recover the penalties and damages authorized by law, which include courtcosts and attorneys' fees. If you pay the one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00),(store name/owner of the property) will have no further civil remedy againstyou arising from the events occurring on (date).

                  If you arethe parent or legal guardian of an unemancipated minor who unlawfully tookpossession of property as set out above, you can be held liable if you knew orshould have known of the propensity of the child to commit the act complainedof, and you had the opportunity and ability to control the child and you madeno reasonable effort to correct or restrain the child.

                  If youbelieve you have received this notice in error, please contact (name)immediately.


(c3)      The owner of theproperty sending the demand letter required by this section shall havequalified privilege from any civil liability resulting therefrom provided thatthere is no excessive publication and that the owner acted in good faith andwithout malice.

(c4)      If the recipient ofa notice pursuant to subsection (c2) of this section pays the demanded onehundred fifty dollars ($150.00) within 15 days of the recipient's receipt ofthe notice, the owner of the property shall have no further civil remedyagainst that violator for the incident described in the notice.

(d)        Nothing containedin this act shall prohibit recovery upon any other theory in the law. (1987,c. 519, s. 1; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1081, s. 4.1; 1995, c. 185, s. 1;1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 742, s. 3.)