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LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  Research Attorney; Private Practice; Attorney Mentor; Mediator
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I recently consigned a large piece of furniture (a six-foot

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I recently consigned a large piece of furniture (a six-foot long buffet server) that was over 100 years-old to a local auction house. I went to the auction and when I did not see the piece in the auction as promised, I was told that it "arrived in poor condition and was thrown out" and that "they would be billing us $40 for the disposal". I loaded the piece myself and it was in perfect condition when it left and I was never contacted by the auction house prior to the disposal. The contract I signed said nothing about them being able to discard without contacting me.

They have since admitted that they should not have thrown it out and have offered to not charge us for the disposal and give us $20 for "our troubles". Is this worth taking to small claims? How would we prove the market value of the piece since it never made it to the auction?

LegalGems :

Hi! LegalGems here. My goal: To Do My Best To Assist You. Please remember, I can only provide general information,as this is a public forum.

LegalGems :

Generally, in order to dispose of another's property, one would need to have this option as a term and condition of the contract. If they felt that the furniture was not of satisfactory condition, the proper action would be to notify the owner unless the contract specified what to do in such a situation. If a party disposes of property without permission, they are generally liable for the fair market value of the property. Did the contract state what the property was worth, or is there any way in which you can prove its value?


Sadly, the contract did not state a value and all we currently have is a photo of the piece.

LegalGems :

A photo should be sufficient to get a third party appraisal - that would help establish value. Presumably, being over 100 years old, it would be worth the nominal $20 they are offering.

LegalGems :

You can also ask for the cost of the appraisal if you end up going to small claims.


I understand that mistakes are made but the incredibly unprofessional manner in which it was handled has me more motivated to actually make a claim. Thank you for your help and happy July 4th!

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