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Client hired me for web design project, project got as far as being fully built & coded, client then changed his mind. Payment?

Tampa, FL |

Hello Avvo Lawyers,

I made a rookie move and didn't have a contract signed for a website redesign project. Here's what has happened:

- Client (who is actually an attorney) contacted me.
- I provided an estimate of $1,500-$1,800.
- Client agreed/hired me.
- Client liked my proposal, wanted to see revisions.
- Client liked revisions.
- Client asked when the website would be complete and ready to go live.
- After completing the website, client decided he hated everything about it.
- Client, a week later, informed me my services were terminated; he hired another designer.

Am I entitled to payment? I sent him an invoice 3 weeks ago billing him for hours spent coding the website, since it didn't need to go that far if he didn't like the mockups. The deadline for payment on invoice has passed.

Luckily for me, I have all conversations via email saved. We did all communication via email.

Attorney Answers 3


Sue on oral contract via small claims court using emails to establish consideration and promises.

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You could probably have a valid cause of action for unjust enrichment too. Throw that in there as well.

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The legal concept you can sue under is "quantum meruit" which basically means you have a right to be paid for servces rendered.

Your best bet is to file a small court claim assuming the defendant resides in the same state (a requirement of most states' small court actions). I know for a fact that FL small claim courts will sometimes allow an out of court defendant to be called in. You do not need a lawyer for this just bring any and all evidence and a clear summary of what occured. Do not be unreasonable regards to what you are asking for and you should probably ask for the full contract price so long as you can show why you deserve it (e.g. you turned down other jobs for this one, you had to invest in supplies or resources to conduct this work, etc).

Alternatively, you can hire a lawyer to send a demand letter, but frankly that will cost you some money and there is not that much here at controversy.

Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.

Best regards,
Natoli-Lapin, LLC
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Thank you very much for a great, detailed answer. I think if I do have to go to small claims, I'll ask for the full amount after all.

Frank A. Natoli

Frank A. Natoli


No problem. You need to work with a thorough master service agreement as you move forward in this business as well. This will help in these kind of situations: Regards to this matter, again, do not try to BS the magistrate and be as reasonable as you can. That is the best approach - to come to court to get only what is fair.

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