Jacket ruined by fresh paint: who pays?

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Hi folks. My child rubbed up against/leaned against a freshly painted wall in the stairwell of the building we live in, with the result that his navy-blue winter coat is now covered in white paint. We took photos of it and then popped it right in the washing machine, hoping we might get some of it out before it dried. No such luck - it's covered in paint all down one side, including the back, sleeve, and hood. There was no painter there working, nor were there any signs posted to indicate that there was fresh paint (though investigation after the fact has shown that three of the four walls of the foyer and part of the stairwell had indeed been freshly painted. Only a faint paint smell, if any.). Had there been a sign, my husband would've certainly prevented my son from touching the walls, let alone leaning against them. My husband rang a couple of neighbor's bells and they came down to have a look -- no, they couldn't find any posted signs or other indications of the fresh paint, either. My question now is, who is responsible for the cost of replacing the jacket? Since my son cycles to and from Kindergarten, we had invested in a really warm down jacket. The full new price would've been 200 Euros, though we bought it on deep discount for about 50 at the end of season sales last winter. I doubt we have the receipt anywhere. Having just finished our Christmas shopping (and shipped gifts off, so we couldn't return them even if we wanted to), we're not in a position to replace that jacket with the same on our own dime. Meanwhile, it's cold and my son needs to wear a coat. (Technically speaking, yes, he can wear the coat with the paint on him - it will still keep him warm, but boy does it look stupid, and he is sensitive to that kind of thing such that he refuses to wear it. I don't blame him. Also, the jacket's stiff and crunchy where the paint is.)

 

We know the name of the Malermeister who did the painting (a call to the landlord confirmed this). Is he liable for the cost of replacing the coat, since he failed to put up signs? Or should we seek replacement/reimbursement for the coat from our Hausratversicherung? I'll make calls on Monday but am wondering where to start, not to mention still steaming from the whole thing. My son couldn't leave the house with the wet-paint jacket on since he'd have gotten it all over the tram and train he was headed for. That meant canceling the trip to a soccer match today for want of a coat he could wear, and thus the tickets he received as a birthday gift were forfeited as well. AAAAARRRgggg!

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Call the Malermeister and see what he says. It might be covered under his Haftpflichtversicherung. Are you absolutely sure there wasn't a "frisch gestrichen" sign somewhere? I've heard that there only needs to be one - hung by the stairway or tacked to a bulletin board etc, to let them get out of any responsibility.

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I did a little research and found this thread on another forum.

 

The gist of it is twofold:

1) Legally, it's sufficient for the painter (or your Hausverwaltung) to post a notice that painting will be taking place or has taken place.

2) Even if that notice wasn't posted, the burden of proof is on you to prove that fact, and we all know how difficult it is to prove a negative.

 

You could put a claim in with the painting firm, and they could in turn put in a claim with their business liability insurance, but your chances of success are quite slim. As SmittyBoy noticed, cosmetic damage doesn't distract from the properties of the coat.

 

Sorry.

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Fully understand your F'd off, but unless the Malermeister is happy to admit liability its unlikely to be worth pursuing I would think.

 

What you can do though is get down to DM markt or Rossmann and get some Dr Beckmann's stain removers (they have different types for different stains)- given that you have washed the coat already it may not work so well but its still worth a try might take a few goes but they do work well, I have used them on sports gear and shirts a lot (sweat, byro, blood, mud, grass etc).

 

http://www.dr-beckmann.de/

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Would be good to know what kind of paint it was. At least the Malermeister can tell you that. I wouldn't get my hopes up about being able to completely remove it, though.

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Thanks for replies, especially the sympathy for me being cheesed off. Sometimes it just helps to get an "I hear ya, sister! That sucks! How frustrating!". Yes, the damage is cosmetic, but it does limit the function of the coat in that the texture of the sleeve is now stiff (though the paint doesn't appear thick enough to crack or to pull/fall off in chunks). Similarly, a scratch to a car is only cosmetic but if I scratch my neighbor's car, s/he will expect me to pony up to have that fixed. And it will certainly limit how long the coat lasts - this is extra weight pulling on the fabric. No adult would wear a coat that had been cosmetically damaged to this extent, and I see no reason why the law would assume something different of a child who is old enough to be aware of and embarrassed by the same.

 

We and the neighbors checked: there is no bulletin board, no sign or notice anywhere on the building, front or back, in the foyer or stairwell, that there will be painting done on any particular date or ever. We received no notice in our mailboxes, nor anywhere else. As you say, I doubt the Malermeister is going to respond to/bother about the fact of the damage, but westvan you're right -- we should get him to tell us what it is that's on there. Joe, I'll give those products a try. It's a big surface that's covered in paint and I wouldn't want to damage the down filling in the process but worth a try!

 

In the meantime I've found the following, which leaves me a bit encouraged, though pursuing these things seems to be a huge time and energy suck if the first instance isn't at all responsive. My link

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All this fuss and meither for a 30€ or so Jacket..

 

Why not blame your Hubby?? he was the responsible adult!!

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Fully understand your F'd off, but unless the Malermeister is happy to admit liability its unlikely to be worth pursuing I would think.

 

What you can do though is get down to DM markt or Rossmann and get some Dr Beckmann's stain removers (they have different types for different stains)- given that you have washed the coat already it may not work so well but its still worth a try might take a few goes but they do work well, I have used them on sports gear and shirts a lot (sweat, byro, blood, mud, grass etc).

 

http://www.dr-beckmann.de/

 

#firstworldproblems

 

But seriously, I also recently saw a bunch of different removers (depending on the culprit) available at DM. Everything -- various oils, chocolate, blood, ETC... I believe all under 10 euros.

 

And if removers that doesn't work, you might try asking a local dry cleaner's for an opinion on the matter.

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How can 3 of the 4 walls and part of the stairwell be freshly painted and you not notice?

Normally you can smell the stuff a mile off.

 

 

 

In the meantime I've found the following, which leaves me a bit encouraged, though pursuing these things seems to be a huge time and energy suck if the first instance isn't at all responsive. My link

 

That refers to a business premises and I should imagine the laws are different.

 

 

All this fuss and meither for a 30€ or so Jacket..

 

Why not blame your Hubby?? he was the responsible adult!!

 

€30 is a lot to some of us but yer agree with the rest of what you say.

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OP, I have no advice, but lots of sympathy. I'd be pretty angry if an almost new coat of mine were ruined by paint. I like to look nice, and I work hard for my money. To be doomed to wear a paint-covered coat for the rest of the season would absolutely kill my sexy. Not so different from your son, who doesn't want to loose his cool kid mojo. I don't blame him at all for not wanting to wear it. Good luck!

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No idea if this actually works, but since it probably won't damage the jacket...

 

http://www.frag-mutti.de/tipp/p/show/category_id/3/article_id/14895/Frische-oder-angetrocknete-Farbe-auf-Kleidung.html

 

I would be equally ticked off. I don't think you are overreacting at all.

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Thanks, modernbird. We live in a culture that puts so much emphasis on being and looking and behaving "ordentlich", that my son (rightly) sees it as a matter of dignity to wear clothes that aren't obviously filthy. He certainly is fortunate to have the luxury of trying to preserve that dignity, a fact which I fully recognize.

 

A few points of fact for the persnickety:

Not all paint smells strongly. As I mentioned, the existence of the paintjob was NOT obvious to my husband or son until the jacket was covered with paint. None of the neighbors realized the walls had been painted either, and two had walked through the stairwell just a few minutes before my son and husband came through, though fortunately none of them made contact with the walls (they doublechecked their coats and bags). The stairwell did smell of cigarette smoke, though, which may well have been from Herr Malermeister himself.

 

The jacket cost me 50 Euros, not close to 30 Euros, and to replace it for what it was would cost 200 Euros. (If I replaced it with a cheap kids jacket, a fraction as warm as that one, would be at least 30 Euros. There's no tree in our neighborhood that grows money, though if you tell us where to find one, we'd be grateful. We buy jackets to last at least two winters (and, thus, a bit big) for the simple economics of it: one good, 50 Euro jacket is cheaper and lasts longer (better zippers, for one thing) than two 30 Euro cheapo jackets (one per winter) whose hoods tear off or zippers bust within a few weeks of wear. It's only the better jackets that survive two winters in good enough shape to keep the two younger kids as well.

 

Of course I reject that it was my husband's fault, just as it wasn't my son's fault. They lacked crucial information in order to regulate/alter their normal behavior to avert damage, and I figure there must be clear lines about liability in such cases. Even if they're not in our favor and there's nothing we can do about it, I'll be (a) glad to have legal clarity and (B) covering my children in drop-cloths before bustling them into or out of the building for the next few years. Lehrgeld bezahlt, but I'm still not sure what the lesson is. Don't come within a few centimeters of the stairwell walls in your 5-story-walk-up? Ever? Since they might at any time ruin your kit? Ugh.

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SmittyBoy, I see what you're saying but your version of the analogy doesn't hold. In walking into a building and up a narrow staircase it is within the understanding of normal use that a person touches the wall and/or handrails (so far as these exist) in order to mount the stairs. If these suddenly are able to inflict damage (or injury - is paint safe for children's skin? what if they then put their hand in/near their mouth or eyes?), it's different than if it's "property" which another person isn't normally expected to touch in the course of things. In the meantime we've found out that a neighbor's Kinderwagen has also got paint on its fabric. The painter moved it from the foyer to paint the wall, then put it back -- touching the freshly painted wall. Genius.

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If you really think it's worth your time, you could ask for signed statements from several of your neighbors, confirming that no signs about painting work were ever posted in the hallway, and file a claim with the painting firm and/or their insurance company. They are required by law to tell you the name of their Berufshaftpflichtversicherung company. In fact, if they have a website (provided you know their name), it might be on the Impressum. You might also present your evidence to your Hausverwaltung first, because it will be a big help if you can get them on your side - after all, they're the ones who hired the painters and the painters have a vested interest in not losing them as a customer.

 

Good luck.

 

EDIT: Be sure to get a statement from the neighbor whose buggy was damaged, too - you can present your case to the HV together.

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germans love to insure everything. i will call the company and explain your case. good luck and happy saturday.

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Bear in mind that if there were signs or if you were pre-warned of the work (signs in the hallway or letter from the management company) and your son "damaged" the wet paint by scoring or scuffing it, then there may be a counter-claim against you. Being realistic, I can't see it likely, if you do shake the wasps nest...

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