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Interesting situation…. Are you saying you were present at the shoot as well?
Just an opinion, although i feel the entire situation is not mentioned which would make it hard to have a complete opinion on this.. However, i feel this person in question could not be held accountable for the loss re the $$$.. Yes, responsible for neglecting their duties, although not burdening the cost.. As Bert mentions, this is what insurance is for…
More importantly, i am curious on several things.. length of employment this person has with you and in the industry in same role? what processes have you walked through with them to ensure its done right? do you create a check list? basically, what have you done to ensure that all is packed properly by anyone you employ? Also, how do we know it was left behind? only asking as it was not in lost and found, would be unusual for a guest to grab a case with camera by mistake? Or more importantly, was it stolen before it was packed which may explain the oversight in packing it as it was not there? where did it go missing from? was it unattended after you used it to shoot? so many questions and to attribute blame may be hard.
Also, if i had expensive equipment on site, i would monitor it like a hawk – and/or strapping it to an assistants hand