Vcom Court

February 27, 2016 at 07:07 AM · Once upon a time Joe was given a good violin by a friend (Willy) who had arthritis. Joe knew that

Willy would be happy if the violin were used in church events.

Joe had a relative (Sam) who was very active in church and had some violin training. Sam was glad to take the violin and everybody was happy.

But Sam never reached a performance level.

The violin sat in the cellar for years until one day it was discovered with the bottom plate open.

Repair costs ran $700 which Sam paid.

Sam has offered to give the violin back to Joe but what about the $700? Should Joe have to reimburse Sam?

Replies (33)

February 27, 2016 at 09:06 AM · No.

February 27, 2016 at 09:12 AM · Of course not!

February 27, 2016 at 01:05 PM · Once upon a time, are we talking about a hypothetical situation here Darlene?

I think $700 sounds a little high to have some seams repaired and glued.

February 27, 2016 at 01:17 PM · Depends on which seam. $700 to repair a center joint which has come open might be quite reasonable. Or there may have been many other things which also needed attention.

February 27, 2016 at 02:35 PM · Sam only REPORTED the $700 figure and the full extent of repairs is unknown. The shop who did the work has an excellent reputation. They said the violin was worth repairing.

And yes, this account is basically true. Sam still has the violin but doesn't play it.

David B

Many thanks for package,

Watch snail mail.

February 27, 2016 at 02:41 PM · If the original owner wants his violin back, he should have it, if it was known to be a loan (and not a gift) at the outset. The person who had it repaired eats those costs. If he refuses then he should be charged a rental fee at local a competitive rate.

I don't see a problem here. After all this is why we have lawyers, insurance companies, and prisons.

February 27, 2016 at 03:19 PM · If Sam were to be the plaintiff in an action to recover that $700 I'm sure Judge Judy would dismiss his case...unless there had been a meeting of minds establishing that any accidental damage on Sam's watch would be covered by the donor's insurance or indeed the donor himself.

Defendants on her programme will trash loaned vehicles and deny financial responsibility, pleading either that "permission was granted", it was an accident and not an "on purpose" or that the lender should have gotten it taken care of by insurance,

Sam had a "duty of care", I assume.

February 27, 2016 at 03:36 PM · This is a proof that documents such as "Personal property rental agreement" (here in Canada) should always be used. Friends or not, it is good to state and sign the details such as who is responsible for instrument's maintenance and repair costs during the lease. Why lose a friend over $700?

February 27, 2016 at 03:59 PM · Never loan anyone a violin ever.

Loaning violas is OK....

February 27, 2016 at 04:35 PM · Why would Sam offer to give it back if it were given to him in the first place? Or was this a loan and you're being deliberately vague?

Is there neglect actually involved? If so, then it is up to Sam to make correct. I do not like these fake/analogous settings because they muddy the waters. Why not just be clear and straightforward?

February 27, 2016 at 05:46 PM · If i have contributed to any muddy waters it is only to protect the innocent as they say. I do not expect all parties to show up on Vcom but a few might.

I may have to deal with all this in the near future in a way that will offend some people but neither do I plan to give up on this violin.

Sam was given the loaner with the stipulation that it be used in church events. Actually church property in a way. With some violin background, he became the care taker.

I never saw the label on this violin but I was told that "Czechoslovakia" could be seen. I reckon the age at 150 years +.

I really needed some guidelines here and maybe Judge Judy is as good as I'll hear!

February 27, 2016 at 09:09 PM · Czechoslovakia did not exist 150 ago.

In the lack of legal document, the real question is: do both parties have the same version of "assumed contract"?

In other words, if both assumed that

1. violin would be well cared for and that

2. any repairs and maintenance would be covered by the lessee

than, there are no bad feelings.

If, however, the assumptions were different, they may end up in real court.


February 27, 2016 at 09:44 PM · If the violin was a gift, Sam should only return it if he no longer wants it. He is responsible for all costs incurred.

If the violin was a loan, Sam should have asked the owner before repairing it, and they should have agreed on who was responsible for the costs. Given that the violin suffered preventable damage while in Sam's hands, it should be Sam's moral responsibility to cover the cost of that damage, though.

Violins should be covered by musical instrument insurance whenever possible. When violins are loaned out on a personal basis (as opposed to rented out by a shop), the owner often asks the recipient to cover the cost of the insurance.

February 27, 2016 at 10:11 PM · Basically, I have a lot of food for thought in this thread but there is a major issue on my mind and someone just said it. "Preventable".

I once saw the violin(case) in a basement office and it was cold and damp. After not seeing the violin for months, I became suspicious.

I wonder how "preventable" versus natural causes is handled?

February 27, 2016 at 11:02 PM · I should just keep quiet, but this seems a little more complicated than at first glance. However, if Joe doesn't want the fiddle back and Sam would like to keep it there is no problem. If Sam just wants rid of it, he should also eat the cost. If Joe wants it back, it might be reasonable for him to split the cost, even though Sam was negligent. I know this doesn't simplify things, but that is not my job. And getting lawyers, etc., involved could make the $700 look like pocket change.

February 27, 2016 at 11:17 PM · My insurance does not cover lending the instrument, norclimatic damage, (nor damage incurred in" demonstrations of an idealogical nature"!)

February 28, 2016 at 12:14 AM · Demonstrations of an ideological nature ....... could you play a few bars?

Lyle. I think you may have the answer with splitting the cost.

Rocky. The actual report I got was simply "check" . If that can not be 150 years old, how old might it be?

February 28, 2016 at 03:51 AM · Normally, when an instrument is loaned, the recipient is responsible for keeping it in a proper condition, including paying for any necessary maintenance and covering damages (preferably via insurance policy).

"Proper condition" means keeping it in appropriate temperature and humidity in a case that provides adequate protection from accidental damage (quality of case proportional to cost of instrument). It also means things like wiping off the strings, fingerboard, and body after playing so that rosin doesn't coat everything. And it also means regular inspections by a luthier to make sure seams aren't opening up and whatnot.

"Maintenance" includes tonal adjustments, soundpost and bridge, periodic new strings, and so forth. If the player isn't using the instrument, then maintenance doesn't really need to be done.

There are some routine wear-and-tear things that might require somewhat more over time. I think for a loaner, these things are the responsibility of the owner, since they are the result of very long-term cumulative wear -- for instance, replaning of the fingerboard, replacement of a bridge that has warped over time, rebushing of pegs, and cosmetics like dealing with any tiny nicks in the varnish (probably done via a French polish).

I would consider heavy abuse of the varnish, whether through a lot of nicks or rosin or accumulated grime, to be in the category of preventable damage, though, not natural wear-and-tear.

Short form: Virtually every form of possible damage to the violin is preventable, not "natural".

February 28, 2016 at 01:20 PM · Tart this story up a bit (e.g. the violin turns out to be a genuine $2M 300-year old from Cremona, for starters) and it could conceivably run on The Good Wife - complete with an eccentric judge in court and an obscure twist in the law between two adjacent States. Unlikely to happen though, if the present series of TGW is indeed the final.

February 28, 2016 at 02:17 PM · Just the facts Mam. Willy has violin that has ties to church. Willy gives violin to friend Joe. Sam, a church going beginner violinist received the violin from relative Joe. Years later the unused violin is repaired by Sam and returned to Joe.

When will it be auctioned in Montreal?

February 28, 2016 at 03:51 PM · Sam is beating around the bush with hints of a renewed interest in the violin. But Joe is sure that Sam is just holding the violin for ransom.

I'm starting to see how important e mail can be for written records in situations like this.

For anyone who is curious ......... I WILL know all the answers in a week or two. Stay tuned.

David M. I only saw the violin for a short time . It had that look of being very old. Weathered(?)

There was no f hole label but Sam found the label loose in the violin. He reported "check" origin.

I would hope to have any auction in NYC for the big bucks!

February 28, 2016 at 03:56 PM · By the way, I love the title of the thread, "Vcom Court."

Within the "discussion" area there are several "categories" such as instruments, life in general, etc. I now suggest that we should add one called " court" for all those dispute-settling threads.

February 28, 2016 at 04:15 PM · With Darlene's clarification, Sam is 100% responsible for the costs of repair. Regardless of how wishy-washy Sam is being, Joe should put his foot down and tell Sam to return it in proper condition.

The only consideration is how much damage there was before Sam took posession.

February 28, 2016 at 05:03 PM · Aaron "To be or not to be, that is the question!"

Paul D. The loyal members of this forum are, thankfully, artists above any trivial disputes or need of policing.

As Charlie Brown said, "Sincerity as far as the eye can see." (re the pumpkin patch)

February 28, 2016 at 10:19 PM ·

February 29, 2016 at 03:57 PM · Not really conclusive with the language surviving the Roman Empire collapse in 1806. I would assume that the people and language had prior history besides that of the ruling powers ?

March 1, 2016 at 07:18 PM · Seraphim!!! Aren't you the person who recently wrote that violas have the most beautiful sound in the world?

March 1, 2016 at 07:19 PM · SHHH!

You don't want the violinists to know that!

March 1, 2016 at 11:00 PM · This is my thread and I declare that the most beautiful conventional string, bowed, instrument is the cello and that's final.

March 2, 2016 at 02:48 AM · Does electric chin cello count?

March 2, 2016 at 01:47 PM · Whoa!

What sites have you been hanging around! Better crank up the pop-up settings!

The extreme vibration transmitted to the chin can do head/brain damage.

Actually, my chin cello sounded pretty good but never as good as the real thing.

Anyhow, any instruments needing a line cord don't count.

March 2, 2016 at 05:16 PM · Nope. He broke it he should pay for it.

March 2, 2016 at 05:47 PM · That is what I would expect to happen but I have certainly

learned a lesson.

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