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I have a landscape business. If a client is refusing to pay the labor, 1300. and hires an attorney to say so, can they sue me?

West Linn, OR |

We built the woman a fence, per her request, it is straight and nice. She now does not want to pay for the labor, so used a prepaid legal service she has to send me a letter. It cites supposed comparable cases, (xyz vs US Bankcorp etc) but they must be huge money cases, not small claims. I want to take her to small claims, but the letter says they are suing me if I do not respond in writing and forgive all the labor. I did not commit any crime, so what can they sue me for? I feel she just does not want to pay so made up things to tell the attorney as she is pre-paid anyway through her benefit plan at work. The fence is beautiful. I have pictures. We agreed she would pay 25 per man hour and she did for the sod we put in prior to the fence. Everything was understood.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    You need to consult an attorney in private. Call the Oregon State Bar for a referral or call an attorney here who might give you a free consultation in person. There is a statute where your attorney fees may be paid for by the losing side, based on the information above, it sounds like she breached an oral contract with you and at the very least she owes you for the work performed and possibly the materials. Did she pay for the materials or you? Are you a licensed contractor? If you are, you might even be entitled to put a lien on her property.

    The information you provided is simply not enough to give you a definite answer. Please call a lawyer and call several till you find one you trust. Lawyers are ultimately people, too and Oregon has some great lawyers that help people.

    Best wishes

    The response is based on the information provided. Absent an express agreement, this communication does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. First of all, lawsuits have nothing to do with crimes. Contract cases are civil, not criminal.

    Even though you're dealing with a small-claims case, you should consult with an attorney, in private, where you can relate ALL the details of the agreement you had with your (now former) client, including showing the letter prepared by the prepaid legal service attorney. You did not provide enough details here to truly analyze your case.

    However, your question was "can they sue you?" Anybody CAN sue anyone; the real question is whether the former client has a winnable case or not, or whether the case is worth spending the time and money to pursue, and these are questions that cannot be answered with the brief space available on Avvo. You should consult with someone in your area as soon as possible, since the letter you received almost certainly gives you a limited time in which to respond before the former client initiates some sort of action against you.

  3. There Is Not Enough Information To Fully Respond To Your Concerns. It Is Unclear What They Would Sue You For Unless They Are Claiming Shoddy Workmanship And Having To Retain Someone Else To Fix What You Had Done. But That Is Mere Conjecture. You Should Conduct With A Local Attorney And Bring Your Contract, Assuming There Is One And The Letter You Received. If There Was Not A Contract Use This As A Lesson Learned. Additionally, You Should Give Customers An Accurate Estimate Of The FCost For A Job Including Labor And Materials . You Should Get Paid 1/3 Up Front, 1/3 Midway And Final Payment Upon Completion.

    Disclaimer: The foregoing answer does not create an attorney-client relationship with Attorney Cannella or her firm. This answer does not constitute legal advice, is provided for informational and educational purposes only for persons interested in the subject matter, is not legal opinion, nor confidential in nature. Each situation is fact specific and may be subject to state specific laws. Without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem fully.

  4. From the information that you have provided it sounds as though your agreement was verbal, rather than being in writing; correct? If the agreement was in writing then it presumably contains terms that address the dispute. If it was verbal, then the "answer" is less clear, although Oregon courts will enforce verbal contracts, generally speaking. You should consult with an attorney ASAP to better evaluate the alleged counterclaim against you (if you provide more detail regarding what, specifically, the attorney's letter to you claimed, I would be happy to comment further). When you speak with an attorney you should ask them whether you can pursue collection of the debt owed to you pursuant to ORS 20.082, Oregon's attorney fee statute applicable to small contract claims.

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