Who is responsible for a dress that is damaged during dry cleaning if it was cleaned as per the manufacturer’s instructions?

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Who is responsible for a dress that is damaged during dry cleaning if it was cleaned as per the manufacturer’s instructions?

I purchased a beaded dress for my daughters wedding, when I had it cleaned (per the manufacturers label) the beads melted. The cleaner offered to glue replacement beads on the dress if the store owner would supply them. The store gave me the wrong size beads. The store will not replace the dress or refund my money.

Asked on February 8, 2011 under General Practice, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the dry cleaner followed instructions, then the dry cleaner is not to blame and is not liable. (Of course, just because the cleaner *said* he followed instructions doesn't mean that he did; there may be a factual question). If the problem was that the instructions were wrong, it's most likely the manufacturer who was to blame; if the problem was that the store modified the dress prior to selling it to you, then it may be the store's fault, if those modifications (e.g. attaching beads of a kind that shouldn't have been on this dress and didn't work with the cleaning instructions) are what caused the damage and loss. In short, you need to identify the reason for the melting--dry cleaner not following instructions; bad instructions or defective material; or a store-made modification--to figure out who would be liable. Or you could sue them all, and try to determine liability in the course of the lawsuit.


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