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Charity Has a Problem With Cinderella’s Night Out

OMAHA (CN) - A nonprofit that collects formal dresses for girls who cannot afford to buy or rent one for the prom claims its partner in the charitable endeavor, a rental store, refuses to release more than 800 dresses for the next prom. Project Style sued Terri Smieja dba Cinderella's Formal Gown Rentals, in Douglas County Court.

Project Style collects donated formal dresses and donates them to high school girls "who could not otherwise afford to purchase them for high school events," according to the complaint. The dresses are donated at an annual event called Sweet Repeats. The next such event is set for Saturday, March 5.

Smieja, who also does business as Itex, agreed to use her store in Ralston, Neb., as a drop-off point for the dresses donated to Project Style, and to repair them, according to the complaint.

In return, Smieja could rent out the dresses and keep 75 percent of the money, and turn over 25 percent of it to Project Style, the complaint states.

Project Style claims Smieja had accepted 600 of its donated dresses by August 2010, and has received another 300 since then.

Project Style's dresses are tagged, so as not to be mixed up with Smieja's, but Smieja has returned only 88 of the 900 dresses, and refuses to return the rest, according to the complaint.

Project Style seeks an order for the immediate delivery of its dresses, in time for its March 5 event.

It is represented by Howard Epstein with Marks, Clare & Richards.

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