Can I sue?(10 posts)
Here's the situation:
I just moved to Brooklyn after graduating college. On July 1st I moved into my new place. On July 2nd, I bought a mattress, box spring, and bed frame for 200 dollars from a place called Sunset Furniture in Brooklyn. I went on the advice of my brother who said I could get a deal there. I went in and asked about a "cheap" mattress. The guy there led me downstairs to a nice looking full size set wrapped in plastic and next to a bunch of identical looking mattresses. Great, I thought. Looks like new. Turns out I was sold a refurbished mattress and box spring. I had no idea people even sold refurbished ones, and the guy gave me every reason to think I was getting a new one besides saying so.
So you can see where this is going. Three days later, I wake up next to two dead bugs. Now, I'm fairly neurotic about these things and had heard about the bedbug problems in Brooklyn. So I called my super right away. We flipped the box spring over to find the thing was infested. My super helped me carry the mattress out of the building. When I returned to the store, I was told for the first time that I'd bought a refurbished mattress set. I demand my money back but the lady says the manager is out of town until July 13 (a week later) and that I should return then.
At this point, I clear out my room, begin freezing things, putting things in hot cars, dryers, washers. I spray the entire place with this deltamethrin spray my super recommended. I spend a week and a half sleeping on the couch downstairs before getting a new mattress.
At the same time, I'm told by some friends that legal action may be a possibility and that I should submit a written letter to the store to document things. In the letter I ask for a full refund, compensation for the 50 dollars I spent on laundry and bug spray and a written promise to pay for future extermination in the case of a bedbug resurgence. When I return with the letter, the manager refuses to comply or to even give me a cash refund, saying that the best he can do is store credit. Additionally, he says he doesn't believe me that the bugs came from his mattress.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. Maybe the bugs, in fact, did NOT come from the mattress. Maybe the apartment was infested beforehand? BUT, the super, who I trust, promised me this was not the case and that the building has never had an issue in the past. Plus, the bugs started in my room at the "new" mattress (the top floor of the building). If it were the case that the bedbugs had started in the building, wouldn't my roommates have had similar problems (which they haven't until very recently; see below). And would it be possible for the bugs to infest the mattress so quickly?
And the worst part... The bugs have returned. This morning, I found one (a small one, fresh off a blood meal) under the box spring of my new mattress, which I got at Sleepy's this time and which I've only had for two nights now. Additionally, my roommate in the room right below me woke up yesterday with a couple bites that might be from bedbugs.
Soooo, do I have a case against Sunset Furniture? I've already filed a complaint with the BBB and with 311 NYC, but am not really sure what to do next. I need to get an exterminator and maybe it's legally the responsibility of the landlord, but I feel the furniture store should be the ones to pay.
Additional evidence against the store:
Pictures of the infested mattress
Testimony from super that there is no history of bedbugs in the building
Testimony from super that the mattress was infested 3 days after purchase
I've never lived in NYC and have never had bedbugs (nor have my roommates)
Whaddaya think? Should I sue? And also, if I'm going to sue, do I need to wait to figure out who can pay for it before getting an exterminator?
Since you're in NYC. Don't even bother to talk to them again. See the letter I recommended in the other posting about suing. Send them a letter; don't deal with sales people; find an executive/owner. Don't bother going back to the store.
Go down to small claims court - 141 Livingston St. It's a very simple procedure. Sue them for the max 5K. Chances are they won't even show up at the hearing; then you will win by default. Prob. they'll settle. Even if they do show up, you don't need a lawyer - just explain to the arbitrator what happened.
Do you have a receipt?
What does it say?
Are there any signs in the store? Have a friend go in and take photos if they help your case.
Also, keep receipts of all expenses if you haven't been.
I've already given the manager a letter. I didn't directly threaten legal action but it was implicit. The receipt doesn't say anything about the mattress being used. It just says "mat," "box," and "frame," along with "paid in full" and "credit card."
So if they don't show up to small claims court, how does the settling process work? Have you done this before?
Have you considered going to the media?
Dateline did some stories about refurbished mattresses a while back.....
Your local TV station or newspaper will have a consumer advocate that may be able to assist you.
Thanks for your help guys...
So I called a couple of different PCOs and got estimates. Sounds like it could be upwards of 2,000 bucks to treat the whole place (5 bedrooms, 2 common areas, stairwell, etc). We're all recent college grads and do NOT have that kind of money. Going to call the landlord tomorrow to see if he'll cover it. If not, I'll look seriously at the small claims lawsuit to see if I can make a good case against the furniture company. If anybody has any advice to that end, I'd be incredibly grateful. It's going to have to be a really well argued case to get the full compensation for the treatment. Since I only paid 200 for the mattress, I'm a little afraid that the judge might be hesitant to reward me two to three grand for bedbug treatment...
This is a big one.
I just watched the Dateline video about the refurbished mattresses ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24226788/ns/dateline_nbc-dont_let_the_bed_bugs_bite/ ) and as I was watching I thought to myself, "The floral pattern on those mattresses looks suspiciously familiar to my old mattress." So I did some research and it turns out that the place I got my old bed from gets its refurbished mattresses from Brooklyn Sleep Products, the company Dateline reported on.
Can I use Dateline as a witness in court?
I guess my next step is to decide whether to sue the mom and pop store where I got the mattress or sue Brooklyn Sleep Products. I feel confident I could at least win in a small claims court with Dateline on my side, haha. But I wish I knew of a group of discontented customers so we could file a class action suit and put this place out of business. It's really terrible what they're doing to people.
Not manager, someone who has an equity stake in the business - an owner.
You need to send it by overnight mail so that it is memorialized.
Dateline info is evidence but not dispositive. Tape the episode.
Dateline will not come to court as a witness - they may however cover your story.
You don't need Dateline to testify, your documentary evidence is more dispositive.
Your question should be: is it worth my time and money to go to court? If yes then go. If no, absorb the damages. You cannot file a class action suit against a mom and pop store it is a waste of the court's resources and no one would ever represent you. I would be happy with whatever I could get from small claims; it's not even worth hiring an attorney. You would not get any significant damages.
Oh and if you are in NYC. Contact your landlord. He must provide PCO services.
I recently had almost exactly the same problem. I am a little less certain of the source of my bed bugs, as there is no infestation visible on the outside of my refurbished mattress. However, I also went to a little mom and pop store next to my neighborhood in Brooklyn (Variety Furniture, 1131 Fulton) and unknowingly bought a mattress made of used materials. It looked bright and white and came enclosed in plastic. It was inexpensive, but was not the most inexpensive mattress available and was certainly more expensive than the prices mentioned in the msnbc story. However, after reading the article (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24226788/ns/dateline_nbc-dont_let_the_bed_bugs_bite/) I checked the mattress tag (which I had not yet returned to since the extermination process) and was absolutely terrified to read it was made of used materials by Brooklyn Sleep Products. I haven't yet looked into legal action or made a concerted effort at a refund (this all came to light today), but if you have any ideas, refurbishmylife, let me know. This is unsettling, to say the least. Nightmarish, really.
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