What is our recourse if we are an event rental company and ship tablecloths and linens all over the country but now one of out clients will not return our property?

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What is our recourse if we are an event rental company and ship tablecloths and linens all over the country but now one of out clients will not return our property?

We ship and they must return. We rented to a client, who will not take our phone calls, and will not return our linens. What is my recourse for either getting the linens back or their paying for the linens they have stolen. Also, they did pay for the linen rental via credit card. The card no longer works, and now they have also denied the initial charge. I have contacted the police department, but they say they cannot do anything about it. I also contacted the state fraud department, but they indicate this is out of their jurisdiction. All suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Asked on July 8, 2015 under Business Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Your recourse is to sue them for monetary damages (compensation) in an amount equal to the value of the linens, etc. as well as the amount they owe you for the rental. You would sue based on breach of contract, fraud (lying about what they would do), and conversion (theft of properlty entrusted to them). However, you can only recover money if there is money: if the customer was, for example, an LLC or corporation and the entity has little if any assets or income, you may not be able to recover--when you do business with an LLC or corporation, your recourse is only against the business, not its owners, so if the business has gone or goes out of business or otherwise is "judgment proof" (no money or assets), there is effectively nothing to be done.


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