What are my rights if the drycleaners ruined my clothes?

I took about 20 items of clothing to my dry cleaners for cleaning. I got them back and they smelled horrible. they smelled burnt and some smelled like they’d also never been cleaned. I took them back and the cleaner re-cleaned them for free; however, they smell exactly like they did when I got them back the first time. What should I do next?

Asked on July 25, 2010 under General Practice, Maryland


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the drycleaner for negligence in Small Claims Court.

Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover) would ordinarily be the value of the clothes.  The value of the clothes would not be the original price, but would be a lesser amount based on depreciation. Since the current condition of the clothes would indicate that they are a complete loss, a preferable alternative measure of damages would be the cost of replacing the clothes.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages.  This means that if your damages are based on the replacement cost of the clothes,  the replaced clothes would have to be comparable items of clothing and not something considerably more expensive than the original items.

Your damages should also include court costs such as the court filing fee and process server fee.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.