Da Vinci loses first lawsuit for deceiving customer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2012, 12:00am


Consumers won their first lawsuit against a luxury furniture retailer as a district court in Hangzhou, Zhejiang ordered Da Vinci to pay 3.23 million yuan (HK$3.94 million) for making false claims about its goods.

The plaintiff was a 48-year-old businessman who paid Da Vinci the sum to design a set of furniture in May last year. He sued the firm after an expose by China Central Television in July last year that revealed Da Vinci was making furniture in the southern province of Guangdong rather than in Italy, as it had claimed. The report also said the material used was not expensive solid wood, but synthetic, high-density polymers.

It was the first successful lawsuit against the company by a consumer following the scandal.

Lawyers for the plaintiff, whose full name was not given, argued in court that he and others had bought furniture from Da Vinci because they trusted it, as it had a good reputation.

The man never collected his furniture, and the court dismissed the sales agreement, refunding him the total amount paid.

The court rejected the plaintiff's additional claim of 700,000 yuan for travelling costs between China and Canada, where he now lives.

In an e-mail, a Da Vinci spokesman called the judgment 'extremely ridiculous' and said it was reached 'without a legal or factual basis'.

The company planned to appeal against the decision, and the statement said it was not worried the Hangzhou ruling could result in more lawsuits.

But the ruling could provide a legal precedent for consumers who also wish to sue Da Vinci. Xu Tao , a lawyer for the plaintiff, said he believed consumers were waiting on the outcome of the case, according to the news website Zjol.com.cn.

Xu could not be reached for comment yesterday.

After the CCTV report, officers from Hangzhou's Industry and Commerce Bureau conducted an inspection into the allegations and found that most of the furniture labels at Da Vinci's Hangzhou store were fake.