Skip to main content

Paid a civil engineer a retainer and now can't reach him.....

Walnut Creek, CA |

Hello.
I paid a civil engineer a retainer fee of $1400.00 to survey a property I'd like to build a home on. He initially postponed the start date twice. I shuffled my schedule to meet him on the third date but since I had other commitments in the afternoon and could not wait for him, left the check of $1400.00 as a retainer at the property. He came later that afternoon (Friday) and performed about 10 minutes of work, went straight to the bank and deposited the check. We spoke briefly as I had an odd feeling. He assured me that he'd be back on Monday, the latest on Tuesday. He never showed up and does not return calls. What is my legal recourse? Thank you very much.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

I am really sorry for your problem. Need more facts.First ASK a copy of the paid check from your bank.
Do you have Identification info about that person? How did you find them? Did you checked if they are licensed or their license is suspended. Next step is certified letter return receipt requested by USPS, Small Claims court and report against his professional body

Disclaimer:Attorney and Fraud Examiner.One of few that are Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE). The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a legal advice on any subject. No recipients of content from this site,clients or otherwise,should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient's state. The content of this website contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. The Karamanlis Powers Law Offices expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this website, weblogs, twitter, facebook, google+. *the certification is not a specialty recognized by the California State Bar.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

4 lawyers agree

1 comment

Asker

Posted

Thank you very much for your advice Athina, that really helps.

Posted

Send this CA licensed civil engineer a registered letter letting him know that you are preparing a complaint to the CA Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Geologists and Geophysicists. Direct his attention to the Board's rules and regs for professional misconduct, and request a refund of your money.

If you don't get the refund within 5 days, here is where you can and should complain: http://www.bpelsg.ca.gov/consumers/complaint_licensee.shtml

I predict that you will get your refund. I represent many CA licensed civil engineers and other CA licensees and almost all of them are too intelligent to allow any small-bore dispute to cause them to get sucked into the maw of the Dept of Consumer Affairs investigative process and license enforcement. Even when the licensee is wholly without fault, battling out of a formal complaint can cost the licensee at least 5 - 10 grand. If there is any finding of violation of professional standards, the penalties and associated costs can reach tens of thousands of dollars. I would like to believe that all licensed engineers are too good at math to gamble with their licenses, livelihood, future rights to practice in the field, potential administrative penalties, attorney fees for defense -- over a $1400 dispute! I am certain that all of my clients are too smart for such nonsense.

You may want to consider printing and including this response with your letter to the civil engineer you want your refund from. Perhaps he has not yet looked at the issue with his basic arithmetic skills engaged.

You can also bring a small claims action. Your complaint to the licensing agency will not be affected if you do, even if you do not win in the small claim. The licensing agency will conduct an independent investigation and reach an independent conclusion, and the issues are not the same as in small claims court.

Good luck to you.

No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

3 lawyers agree

1 comment

Asker

Posted

Thank you very much for your advice Christine, that really helps.

Posted

First, check and see if this individual has a license. You also may want to check with the Consumer Fraud Division of the District Attorneys Office and file a claim with them. He may have cheated many other people and the District Attorney may be looking for him also or in the alternative they may have information they can share with you.
___________

If you have found this information helpful, please let the attorney know by marking best answer. Thank you. This participating Attorney does not warrant any information provided, nor are we creating an Attorney-Client relationship by providing said information to you on this site. Nothing contained herein is intended to constitute, offer, induce, promise, or contract of any kind. The content provided is presented as a courtesy to be used only for informational purposes and is not represented to be error free. The Law Offices of John N. Kitta makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to its answer to inquiries, and such representations and warranties are being expressly disclaimed. Given limited facts, we are attempting to share relevant information concerning this area of the law as a public service.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

2 lawyers agree

1 comment

Asker

Posted

Thank you very much for your advice John, that really helps.