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Old 04-23-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
CarlAshcraft CarlAshcraft is offline
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Default Small Claims Court

I have a company that I was doing some work for. I have a signed contract from the owner of the company. Long story short they are now refusing to pay the outstanding balance of the contract (materials and change orders). Also, the last check that I received he wrote 4th and final payment. I have not deposited this check because I have heard stories that by depositing a check that has final payment written on it means that you are accepting the contract as being complete.

This will be the first time I have had to take a customer to court. Does anyone have experience with this?
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Old 04-26-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
GregS GregS is offline
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You may want to ask your lawyer for proper legal advice.

I would do that as well as write up a document stating that the work has been performed and the balance is past due and owing and send it registered. If it is a sizable amount you may want to investigate your lien options.

Hopefully you have a good contract.
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Old 04-30-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
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Steve Dale Steve Dale is offline
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Carl, Deposit the check! Money is money and you need to survive. Your not accepting anything by taking a payment that is rightfully yours. and just because it says "Final Payment" does not mean you agree with this statement.
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Old 04-30-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
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The problem with taking a corporation (inc.) to court is that even if you win a judgment against (they probably won't even show up to the hearing) a small company, they won't pay you anyway. I've been there and have come to the conclusion that small claims court is a waist of time (unless you can lean their property). You can report it to the credit bureaus, but the company probably doesn't care about this either. The collection laws are weak when it comes to collecting a debt and in most cases it not worth your time or money the go the route of small claims court. Your best bet is to get the person to pay up by calling and calling and trying to work out an arrangement. Show them that your not going to give up and you want to be paid for your services. Try and find out if they just don't have the funds to pay you or what the reason is your not being paid and then work on befriending the decision maker(s) and getting the issue resolved so you can collect your fees. Sometimes you have to suck it up and be nice to people who try and screw you. Keep in mind your "goal" is to get paid so you can continue in business and feed your employees, yourself and your family.
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Old 04-30-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
CarlAshcraft CarlAshcraft is offline
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Thanks Steve that was great advice! I spoke with a lawyer/friend about this situation she pretty much told me that if I win a judgment against the company I probably won't see any money from them. One thing I have learned over the years is that yelling and screaming at someone won't get me anywhere so the last communication I had with this company I made sure that I was extremely professional. I appreciate your advice and I will try the approach of calling on a regular basis, what can it hurt at this point in time?
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Old 05-08-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
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***Update***

I decided to send a "Notice to Owner" letter via e-mail hoping to get some sort of response and make a phone call every couple of days. I decided not to persue small claims court. I received an e-mail from a lawyer for the owner of the company stating that the company I was dealing is refusing to pay any addtional money. Also, according to the e-mail the owner of the company is requesting payment for money paid to other contractors to make changes to the job that was done.
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Old 06-17-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
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I echo above - I took a company we contracted with to regular court since sadly the amount was above the small claims limit.
We saw $2K which was a drop in the bucket, and that only because I had done work for the individual at his home and put a lien on his house. That amount was just over $100, so not much help either!
Depending on what you can afford, I'd advise you to drop it and learn. There are so many companies hurting out there right now and under-capitalized it's everybody for themselves!
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Old 06-18-2009 - Small Claims Court - Legal - Voltage Talk forum
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Opinion He/she has money to pay a lawyer but not the debt?

The fact that he/she contacted an attorney means that there may be a concern on his/her part about your "Notice to Owner" or your calls. So there may be something here to pursue to get yourself paid. Depending on the amount owed and the way the corporation has been structured and operated you maybe able to "pierce the corporate veil" and go after the owner(s) personally and thus lien his/her home, if they have one. The way to "pierce the corporate veil" is to be able to prove that the owner(s) of the corporation intentionally intended to defraud you. If you can prove this you may have a chance, but it can be costly and will take some investigation on your part before hand. Also, since you did receive a notice/letter from his/her attorney, I would call this attorney and discuss this matter. If the owner(s) were so inclined to hire an attorney (and assuming its not a family member - freebie) then they might consider the cost in having to further retain this attorney in court proceedings in representing him/her/company in court in response to your claim. Then the cost of the attorney to respond to your claim has to be taken into consideration and it maybe in the company's best interest to settle with you and not incur the headache, time and expense in responding to a court action. Again, you would need to speak with this attorney who sent you the letter first and get an idea of the commitment and situation of the owner. It goes without saying "don't take everything for possible truth that the attorney says either", they are working for their client not you. Most attorneys are glorified clerks and they write letters and do filings all the time (so you should not be intimidate by them or their actions). Most issues do not wind up in court because of the cost involved.

This is my personal opinion from my experiences, as I am not an attorney or knowledgeable in all aspects of the law or courts or intended to give advice as a licensed attorney, additionally I do not have a full understanding of your situation, so you should speak with qualified legal counsel before taking any action.

Here is the link to the Florida Corporations to research the company and see who the owners are: http://sunbiz.org/search.html
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