How do I proceed to re-claim costs from a business that never delivered our paid-in-full goods and has now closed its doors?

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How do I proceed to re-claim costs from a business that never delivered our paid-in-full goods and has now closed its doors?

We recently held our daughter’s birthday party at a local pottery studio. At the end of the party we were told that they were closing but we could pick up our items the next Saturday. The owner called that next week, said our items were not quite ready; he would deliver them to our house. This is recorded, along with his name and business name, on my answering machine. The goods were never received, my phone calls and emails have gone unanswered and the storefront is empty. I would like to recoup my costs but as a small business owner myself I don’t have “extra” money to spend.

Asked on March 11, 2012 under Business Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You could bring a lawsuit in small claims court, representing yourself (so, no legal fees; also minimal filing fees) based on breach of contract (you paid, but didn't get the goods) to recover at least some of the money. (Since you had the party itself, but did not receive the completed goods, it's likely you could only recover the value of the pottery, not that part of the cost attributable to the party itself.)

Note that if the business is an LLC or corporation, you can only sue the business itself, not the owner; if the business has no assets or money, you could win the case but not recover. If the business was a sole proprietorship, you could sue the owner personally, too.


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