Do I have to file an official complaint before I can consider suing a business for damages?

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Do I have to file an official complaint before I can consider suing a business for damages?

I rent a small unit that is attached to and owned by a grocery store. In my unit, I sell clothing (which was disclosed in the lease application). Every Saturday and Sunday, the store has a bar-be-que from 10 am to 6 pm (this was not listed in our lease and it just started last month). These are peak shopping hours and days. The bar-be-que is near their entryway and my entryway. The smell and smoke is so bad, I cannot leave my unit open without having to clean my merchandise afterward so I am forced to shut down. I have complained (verbally) about my loss of business but nothing has been done.

Asked on July 18, 2011 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You don't have to file an official complaint before filing your lawsuit; however, you might want to document the verbal complaints in writing.  That is not required, but it would provide evidence that you complained about the stench and smoke from the barbeque and no corrective action was taken by the grocery store.

You can sue the grocery store for nuisance which is a serious and unreasonable interference with your use and enjoyment of the premises.  Your damages would be your lost income and the expense of cleaning the clothes due to the barbeque.  If you have been operating your business for sometime and can show loss of particular customers, that  will provide additional evidence of lost income.  If you have a new business and can't show loss of particular customers, you can still show lost revenue by having to shutdown during the peak weekend hours  compared to your income in previous months when the store did not have a barbeque.


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