PSA: A non-libelous warning about Back Bay Laundry Cleaners

July 9, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Massholes | 1 Comment
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I know some people reading this blog live in Back Bay (and on Marlborough Street, no less!) Here is my neighborly warning, which I write as much to dispel some of my lingering annoyance as to actually effect any change.

About a month ago, Back Bay Laundry Cleaners, at 409 Marlborough Street, lost three of Tim’s shirts. They looked and looked, so they said. But the shirts are gone. Then, about two weeks ago we dropped off our duvet for dry cleaning before storing it for the summer. I thought that was very organized and Martha Stewart-like of me. We got it back, and it sat in its plastic bag for about a week in my closet before I got around to opening it up and putting it away. They must have sealed it up while it was still wet/damp, and it is now moldy and ruined. There is a sign behind the cash register that says something to the effect of: “Any complaints must be brought to our attention within three days or we are not responsible.” So I guess we missed that window, although the studious bar-reviewer in me is searching for other breach of contract remedies despite this disclaimer.

But, in the end, I just don’t have the time or energy to fight with them, so all I can do is write this post, which, fortunately, I think does not meet the necessary elements for libel.  I imagine that there are others — including the several people I’ve seen in there previously arguing about missing/ruined clothes (you’d think that would have been a warning…but it’s just so conveniently located!) — who would leap to my defense that I am hardly ruining the cleaners’ reputation. Moreover, since this is Massachusetts, even though this is not a matter of “public concern” (I don’t think), the cleaners would have to prove both falsity (truth is always a defense!) and fault.  So, if they sued me for libel they would have to prove that if this post were in fact a false statement (which it’s not), I also did not have a “mistaken belief” in this statement. If I didn’t have a mistaken belief, it would mean that I was negligent because I didn’t act reasonably to investigate whether or not their incompetence was true or not. In other words, even if I thought it was true, I should have tried to ascertain whether it really was true before writing about it. Anyway, can a business entity sue for libel in the first place, or is it just a personal tort (help me out here, lawyers and lawyers-to-be)?

(And I have just successfully reviewed the intentional tort of defamation while pursuing the much more enjoyable task of posting on my blog. Who says you can’t multi-task while studying for the bar?)


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  1. I don’t know what the legal term for it is, but don’t they have an obligation to provide the service that you paid them for? They can’t just set an arbitrary three day limit for filing complaints and then say “tough shit” after that. They didn’t hold up their end of the contract so you should be able to argue with them and get some sort of refund. And duvet covers are expensive – so I wouldn’t drop it. That’s just my opinion.

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