What to do if I own a dry cleaner and a customer brought in a 2 piece suit and a sports coat but now says that I lost it?

I accurately recall returning to him after service, yet he claims he never got it. He paid cash amount so there is no credit receipt. Now he wants reimbursement citing the items are a total of $3,000. Of course I am not willing to shell out my hard earned small business cash to a liar. What are my options? End of day it becomes a he said, I said issue.

Asked on February 3, 2015 under Business Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You have identified the issue correctly: without documentary proof one way or another, it becomes "he said, she said." If he believes you lost the suit, or wants to cheat you out of the money, he can sue you; IF he wins, he could recover the *current* value of the suit.

1) Since he'd be suing you, the burden of proof is on him. That means he has to be at least fractionally or incrementally more persuasive or credible in court than you. If you are both equally credible in the judge's eyes, he should lose.

2) He can only recover what he can show the suit was worth then. That means he'll have to prove what he paid for the items and when; and since older clothing is not worth what new clothing is worth, the court should then, even if he does win, reduce what he gets to reflect its age.

To win $3k from you, he should therefore have to be more credible in court than you and be able to prove that the clothing cost more than $3k when new.

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