Is it illegal to issue a stop payment on a check to sub-contractor?

Asked almost 6 years ago - Minneapolis, MN

I have a sub-contractor that has worked for me for about 3 years, he is a sub-contractor for the roofing company i co-own. On the last job he completed I issued him a $1700 check, since we were choosing not to use him again, I issued it on the promise that he would return our trailer he uses the next day, pictures from the last job, and he needed to fill out his new w-9 for 2009.

The next day when he brought the trailer it had been damaged, all the wiring had been pulled, the cost to fix was estimated at $840. He also filled out the paper work with a different ssn than he had used in 2008. And didn't bring any pictures of the last job.

At this point I met with the other owner and we decided to issue a stop payment on his check.

We got a cashiers check subtracting the amount for trailer damages, the loss we would take for no pictures, and had it put in the name he had given us last year. So the cashiers check was in the amount of $700.

I called him yesterday and he advised me that he wouldn't take any money as he was going to get a lawyer.

Can we get into legal trouble for this? I can't see why as he has damaged the trailer, used two different names and ssn's.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Daniel Paul Haugrud Reiff

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . The cost for the sub to hire a lawyer to fight about this amount of money is prohibitive as the lawyer would likely exceed the cost of any possible recovery. Your question is unclear as to "legal trouble." If you mean criminal trouble, that strikes me as extremely unlikely unless there is a lot more to the story. I expect there is more, but I don't know what would cause it to become a criminal matter. No charges come to mind; at least not charges against you.

    On the civil side, I can see that he would claim that you owe him more than $700. You appear to have defenses, though, and he certainly has some explaining to do. I would guess he would file in conciliation court (i.e. small claims court) for the amount he claims he is due.

    An issue you haven't addressed but may be an issue is mechanic's liens. He may be able to file one, and I expect the property owners would not be happy about that. There are insufficient facts here, though, to determine if a mechanic's lien may be filed.

    NOTE: Nothing in this communication should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Daniel Paul Haugrud Reiff

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . The cost for the sub to hire a lawyer to fight about this amount of money is prohibitive as the lawyer would likely exceed the cost of any possible recovery. Your question is unclear as to "legal trouble." If you mean criminal trouble, that strikes me as extremely unlikely unless there is a lot more to the story. I expect there is more, but I don't know what would cause it to become a criminal matter. No charges come to mind; at least not charges against you.

    On the civil side, I can see that he would claim that you owe him more than $700. You appear to have defenses, though, and he certainly has some explaining to do. I would guess he would file in conciliation court (i.e. small claims court) for the amount he claims he is due.

    An issue you haven't addressed but may be an issue is mechanic's liens. He may be able to file one, and I expect the property owners would not be happy about that. There are insufficient facts here, though, to determine if a mechanic's lien may be filed.

    NOTE: Nothing in this communication should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship.

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