Can I sue a moving company for not delivering my things?

by Reiko
(Seattle, WA)

I hired a moving company to transport my possessions from L.A. to Seattle. It took them a month, so I was unable to take possession of an apartment I leased, not having any furniture. When they finally contacted me to deliver my possessions, they demanded $1900 in cash. The original quote was $100 in installments.

I still do not have my possessions, including my furniture, and therefore I'm unable to move into my apartment, so I'm essentially homeless. My question is, how much can I sue for the emotional distress caused by this moving company? In fact, I think their behavior may be criminal in nature. Is there anything I can do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I sue a moving company for not delivering my things?":

Reiko (Seattle, WA):

Your presentation of the facts is a bit confusing. On the one hand you say you say you already leased an apartment. Shortly thereafter you say, "I still do not have my possessions, including my furniture, and therefore I'm unable to move into my apartment, so I'm essentially homeless."

It's difficult to understand why you would be homeless if you had an apartment already leased. The apartment was your new home, albeit it presently furniture-less. While waiting to straighten out the conflict with the moving company, you could have purchased a very inexpensive air mattress, blanket, pillow, a couple of towels, and toiletries.

When it comes to the conflict over the payment, it is quite simple. Take a look at the contract you signed. If it says the moving company agreed to a payment plan, then you have a viable claim. If the contract states payment must be made in full at, or about the time the furniture is delivered, then your claim is not viable.

Few moving companies agree to payment plans. Almost all moving companies require payment at, or about the time of delivery, with payment made by certified check, money order, credit card, or cash.

If the moving company has violated the contract, then you would likely have a good case for financial compensation and pain and suffering. To initiate that claim would require your filing lawsuit in small claims court.

In the State of Washington, the maximum jurisdiction of small claims court is $5,000. You can sue for the amount of the contract and for a small amount for pain and suffering. It is highly unlikely the matter involves criminality. It seems to be a conflict over the contractual terms of delivery.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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