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ARTICLE ID 29211

$________ - BREACH OF CONTRACT - INTENTIONAL MISREPRESENTATION - FRAUD, DECEIT AND CONCEALMENT - FALSE PROMISE - UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES - WAREHOUSEMAN CLAIM - INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS - MOVING COMPANY STRONG-ARMS PLAINTIFFS BY DEMANDING PAYMENTS IN ADDITION TO CONTRACT PRICE - MOVING COMPANY FAILS TO DISCLOSE TO PLAINTIFFS THAT THEIR BELONGINGS WERE NOT STORED AS AGREED AND WERE, IN FACT, STOLEN WHILE IN THE POSSESSION.

Orange County, California

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants moving company and its principal made misrepresentations to the plaintiffs regarding the nature and cost of moving and storage services to be provided.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to advise the plaintiffs that their belongings were stolen from the defendants’ custody while the defendant was demanding payment in excess of the original contracted price.

In the Spring of ________, the plaintiffs began preparations to move their family of five from their Yorba Linda home to Riverside, Ca. After selling their home, the plaintiffs were required to be out of the house by June 30, ________. Unfortunately, just one week before the move date, the moving company which had been previously scheduled to conduct the move canceled. One of the plaintiffs contacted the defendant Premier Van Lines, Inc.

and was assured that the defendant could handle the packing, moving, storage and delivery of the plaintiffs’ property within the required time frame. In fact, the defendant Premier faxed to the plaintiffs a written estimate for the job in the amount of $________. The next day, the defendant’s sales representative visited the plaintiff’s home and inspected the property to be packed and moved. In addition to the typical home furnishings, the plaintiffs had extensive collections of art, sports memorabilia, and collectible dolls. The defendant Premier repeatedly assured the plaintiffs that all of their property would be covered for full replacement in the event of any loss or damage.

The move was scheduled for three days, packing on Friday and Saturday, and loading and moving the property on Sunday. On Friday, the first day scheduled for packing, nobody from the defendant moving company showed up. After the plaintiffs contacted the defendant, they were assured that the packing and moving would be done in two days.

On Saturday, packers arrived at the plaintiffs’ home, but left after only a few hours with very little packing being accomplished. On Sunday morning, the defendant’s movers and packers arrived. However, before any work was commenced, the movers presented the plaintiffs with a contract for the job. The contract presented at that time was not for the promised $________, but for an amount in excess of $________. The defendant Grubb, the president and owner of the defendant company told the plaintiff wife "either the plaintiffs pay the demanded amount, or else the defendant would leave and the plaintiffs would be screwed." Left with no choice, the plaintiffs compromised with the defendants to pay $________. Mrs. Crosson, the plaintiff wife, signed a new contract, tendered a check, and the move continued. Ultimately, the defendant Premier completed the move late Monday night, a full day after the agreed completion date.

The plaintiffs’ property was taken to the defendant’s facility in Monrovia where it was to be stored while the plaintiffs found their new home. Despite specific assurances from the defendants that the plaintiffs’ property was being stored in wooden vaults in the defendant’s warehouse, the bulk of the plaintiffs’ property was simply left on the trailer parked in a remote location on the defendant’s lot.

In the months following the move, the defendants demanded additional money, as much as $________, from the plaintiffs for previously undisclosed and fabricated charges such as warehouse handling, "held-on-van" charges and increased hourly rates. The plaintiffs refused to pay anything more than the agreed $________ per month storage fee.

Some four months after the move, in early November ________, one of the defendant’s neighbors noticed that the trailer doors on the trailer which housed the plaintiff’s belongings were open and informed the defendants. Upon investigation, the defendants learned that the trailer with the plaintiffs’ property had been opened and most of the property had been stolen. Despite knowing of the theft, and even reporting it to the police, the defendants never made any attempts to contact the plaintiffs and advise them of the theft.

In April ________, five months after the defendants discovered the loss, Mrs. Crosson, unaware of the theft, called the defendant to arrange for the delivery of her family’s property. At that time, the defendant Grubb told Mrs. Crosson to come to the defendant’s facility to discuss "outstanding balances" prior to the delivery being scheduled. The defendant Grubb did not mention the loss and specifically instructed Mrs. Crosson not to bring her husband (a former NFL quarterback). Mrs. Crosson met with the defendant Grubb on April 2, ________, at the defendant Premier’s offices. The defendant Grubb spent quite a bit of time detailing new charges of $________ that he was demanding be paid before delivery could be made. The demanded amount even included storage charges for the five months after the loss was discovered by the defendant. After he finished going over his financial demands, the defendant Grubb finally told Mrs. Crosson that a "substantial amount" of the plaintiffs’ property had been stolen.

The defendant Grubb would not allow the plaintiffs to see what was left of their property and continued to demand to be paid more money. Desperate, the plaintiffs paid an additional $________ to the defendant Premier on April 4, ________. The plaintiffs would not, however, commit to paying more. The defendant Grubb, in turn, refused to deliver the property. The plaintiffs repeatedly pleaded with the defendant Grubb to allow them just to look at what was left of their property, however, the defendant refused.

The plaintiffs sued the defendants for unfair business practices, fraud, breach of contract, negligence, warehouseman claims, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiffs contended that the defendants misrepresented what services would be provided and what the cost of those services would be. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants promised to the plaintiffs, among other things, that the packing, moving and delivery would cost $________; that the storage would be $________ per month; that the plaintiffs’ property would be stored in vaults inside the defendant’s warehouse; and that all of the property was insured for full replacement value in the event of loss or damage. The defendants’ failure to deliver on their promises also constituted a breach of Premier’s contract with the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs further contended that the defendants’ actions constituted unfair business practices.

The defendants acknowledged that the moving agreement was breached and that some of the plaintiffs’ property was negligently lost. The defendants, however, maintained that the plaintiffs agreed to limit their recoverable damages to $.60 per pound. The defendants disputed the value of the items that were stolen denied any malicious or intentional conduct on their part.

The trial in this matter lasted four weeks. The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants on September 10, ________, after eleven hours of deliberation. The jury then rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants for punitive damages on September 13, ________, after 1 hour of deliberation. The jury award consisted of $________ for economic damages; $________ for emotional distress; $________ for punitive damages against the defendant Grubb individually and $________ for punitive damages against the defendant Premier Van Lines, Inc.

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