Tenant sues over damaged storage


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On March 10, Dave Drake thought he would be moving furniture out of a storage unit and into a new apartment.  But once the moving truck arrived, he says he discovered ice and water inside his unit, damaging $8,000 worth of furniture.  Drake has filed a lawsuit against U-STOR Self Storage, despite a lease agreement he said states the company isn’t responsible for damaged items.

For the past four years, Drake’s furniture has been in the storage unit, located near Lake and Coliseum in Fort Wayne.  He recently got a new apartment, which he said he can’t furnish because of the damage.

“This was all ice.  Completely two inches of ice going all the way back.  You couldn’t even lift anything up out of my unit because it was so frozen solid,” Drake said as he showed NewsChannel 15 his storage unit.  “You expect a moving day to be happy.  You’ve got your friends here, you pull up that door and you see everything you have left in the world ruined and then all that [the company] can tell you is they’re sorry.”

The N. Coliseum Blvd. U-STOR is not climate controlled and Drake pointed out a tattered seal at the bottom of the unit’s door.  But Drake said he signed a lease which stated the company was not responsible for any damage.

After weeks of back and forth with managers, Drake said the company offered him $1,500.

“I said of course that’s not going to cut it,” Drake said.  “If I can’t get materials back for this, I’m going to try to sue for the $4,000 dollars I paid over the past four years for a service that I paid for that I didn’t get.”

Because of the pending lawsuit, Darah Watson, president of U-STOR Self Storage, released the following statement to 15 Finds Out:

“Mr. Drake is a long-standing and valued tenant.  Despite the availability of other options, he has sought to resolve this matter through litigation.  He is entitled to pursue it in this manner and having done so we will allow the legal process to run its course.”

Marjorie Stephens with the Northern Indiana Better Business Bureau said her agency hasn’t had any similar complaints against units across the area.  But she encourages tenants to read the fine print, get renters insurance, and use a climate-controlled facility for items that can be damaged by extreme temperatures.

“Especially with the bad winter that we had this year, I’m sure there could really be a lot of problems if it wasn’t in a climate controlled storage facility,” Stephens said.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office is investigating two similar complaints of damaged storage since January.

The court date for Drake’s lawsuit is scheduled for May 14.

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