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BizLawyerNate, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 10685
Experience:  7 Years of Legal Experience Representing Small Business Owners
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I am a singer and the club I performed withheld my payment

Resolved Question:

I am a singer and the club I performed withheld my payment for a reason that had nothing to do with our contract. Then when payment was given, they maliciously stopped payment on the check. I want to take them to small claims court but the signed contract states the following (please note: they do business in CA but their attorney is based in NJ. And I guess they have a main business in NJ). Can I still take them small claims court? How can I go about getting my funds, plus penalties?

Arbitration of Disputes:
Any dispute or claim arising under this contract shall be settled by neutral, binding arbitration and not by court action, except as provided by New Jersey law for judicial review of arbitration proceedings. In the event of arbitration between the parties arising out of the terms of this contract, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs from the non-prevailing party. Any matter, which is within the jurisdiction of the New Jersey small claims court, is excluded from the arbitration provision. Any controversy or claim arising out of, or relating to this agreement, or the breach thereof, shall be settled by binding arbitration within the State of New Jersey, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association, and judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrators may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. This agreement shall be constructed and interpreted in connection with the laws of the State of New Jersey.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  BizLawyerNate replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer.


Based on that language, if your claim falls under the small claims court limits, you can go to court and skip arbitration.


If you tell me how much they owe you, I can give a definite answer as to whether you qualify for New Jersey smalls claims jurisdiction.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
They only owe me 408.30 however I am going to ask for the maximum of $7500 because of how long they took to pay me, plus now that they've stopped payment the bank took the money out of my account after I'd already put it in and it's caused me to go negative.
Expert:  BizLawyerNate replied 6 years ago.
Okay. Where does the $7500.00 figure come from?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

In all honesty, greed. It comes from greed and vengeance. *sigh*


Ok, now I'll let those go and be realistic...


I'm getting fees of at least $300 bucks from the bank, plus my paycheck that is coming in isn't going to be able to cover the negative balance so I'm likely to be negative until next week. So in truth, it will be about $1500 on top of the $408.30 that I will ask for.


Can't I ask for punitive damages or some such? Or do you need to have exact numbers (and backing documentation) in small claims court?

Expert:  BizLawyerNate replied 6 years ago.

I feel that.


Since you are suing over a contract, punitives aren't allowed (only contract cases involving the mishandling of dead bodies open the door to punitives in some states).


You can get all that you are asking for, to include any and all NSF fees, the cost of your time and anything else you can prove. Even in small claims court, you need to have documentation of your losses.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Yes. Understand that I need to have documentation of all...and will.


So, I'm in CA...will I be able to skip arbitration and take them to Small Claims court?



Expert:  BizLawyerNate replied 6 years ago.
Technically, you'd have to do it in NJ; however, if you file in California, they are going to spend more in attorney fees to fight you than it would to give you what you want. I'd file in California and then try to settle it.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

These guys won't settle. It's very personal for them. They are out to "teach me a lesson" (this kerfluffle started around another matter and b/c they couldn't win that one, they reacted by withholding my check and then finally stopping payment. It's all about control for them). I have everything in email.


I admit that perhaps my stubborness is biting me in the ass, but this is ridiculous and completely malicious at this point. And I'm tired of people messing with me, plus it's the principle of the thing, really. *sigh*


Thanks for your time.