If a mover negligently damages items of only sentimental value, can I successfull sue?

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If a mover negligently damages items of only sentimental value, can I successfull sue?

I just completed an international move from the U.K. to the U.S. The moving

company did all the packing and delivered the items to me. Upon opening the

boxes, I discovered that they packing was done extremely poorly. I will make a

claim against the insurance for the items with cash value, which were insured.

However, important items with little or no cash value were either accidentally

destroyed Hindu idols packed with no padding in a large box along with tools

such as hammers or intentionally destroyed my child’s art balled up and used

as packing material. I would accept that damage happens if care had been taken, but this seems like the damage was due to negligence and not bad luck. If I want to find a lawyer, do I hire one in the US or in the country of origin? Does the fact that I had not insured these items mean that I have no protection for their damage?

Asked on September 7, 2016 under Business Law, District of Columbia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, there is no compensation in U.S. law for sentimental value, only for economic value. There is accordingly no real point to a lawsuit under U.S. law, since you would spend for more on the suit than you'd recover, since you'd recover only the items nominal value (if any). It's possible UK law would offer you compensation: we cannot speak to that.
Generally, if you did want to sue--e.g. you were willing to spend the money simply for the emotional satisfaction of suing--you could in this case sue locally, since the fact that moved you to a U.S. location means that they deliberately undertook a commercial connection to the U.S., which should give the local court jurisdiction, or power, over them. However, even though you could sue here, suing someoen located elsewhere is always much more difficult, since service of process is more complex, enforcing any court orders or judgments requires additional steps and working through the courts in the country in which the defendant is located, etc. Whatever the cost would be to sue a local mover, assume it will be higher for suing someone located elsewhere.

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.

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