I have a past contract employee that has been paid in full and marked on final check - however he is threatening to sue. He feels he is due more then agreed upon.
I want to know if I am still at risk, if taken to court.
Yes, you still can be sued. The question is whether the employee would win and you don't provide enough facts to have an idea of the issues and chances.
This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
Arizona courts have recognized the general rule that once a check marked payment "in full" is accepted and cashed, there has been an accord and satisfaction. However, there are always exceptions. I note that your question states that the employee feels he is due "more than agreed upon." If you are sued, what is more important than the notation on the check is what was agreed upon. If you had an agreement as to what the employee would be paid for a specific job then the terms of that deal will rule. The four elements of accord and satisfaction are proper subject matter, competent parties, meeting of the minds and consideration. See, e.g., Vance v. Hammer, 464 P.2d 340 (Ariz. 1970).
I have litigated the question of accord and satisfaction, and it can be complicated because it all boils down to what the parties intended. One big factor not mentioned above is whether the "Paid in Full" notation was on the front of the check or the back, where the endorsement goes. It is more likely to be considered an "accord and satisfaction" (meaning you would win the lawsuit) if it it on the back, above the employee's endorsement. The answer to your question is likely to depend on the specific facts.
This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the State of Arizona only. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. You should not rely on this advice alone, and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship.
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