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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 111458
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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4 months ago, a customer presented us a vehicle with a slipping

Customer Question

4 months ago, a customer presented us a vehicle with a slipping transmission. He paid 1050 dollars for a rebuild with no warranty. He took the vehicle, drove it for 4 months, and had it towed to us not moving. This was characteristic of pump damage/failure and had nothing to do with the rebuild. Customer was present during teardown and was shown the damage, and explained this only happens when a person slams a vehicle into drive while backing up, or into reverse while going forward. Customer was quoted what it would cost, and customet gave go ahead to repair the vehicle. Customer was notified when the vehicle was ready for pickup, and he said he needed more time to get the money. When he showed up today, he said he wasn't paying his bill and wanted his truck. We can't legally keep the truck so he took it and left us on the hook for the cost of the repair and installation (not removal as we felt that's just part of our responsibility to see what's wrong). I want to sue him, but I don't know under what statutes or if this is a mechanics lein or what. Help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You can hold the vehicle based on your right to a mechanic's lien. To recover your money by selling the vehicle and to perfect the mechanic's lien, you have to file suit in court against the customer and the court will order him to pay or will award you ownership of the vehicle, which will allow you to title it and sell it to recover cost of repairs. If you sell for cost of repairs and cannot recover all costs, you can sue the customer for the difference in the repair costs and what you were able to sell the vehicle.
So, legally you could have held the vehicle until he paid. Since you did not hold the vehicle until he paid, because a mechanic's lien is a possession lien when the property is in your possession, you need to now file suit against him for the cost of repairs. However, now you do not have the vehicle, to attach a mechanic's lien to the vehicle, you have to perfect the lien and not lose enforceability and you must record within 100 days of completion of its work or supply of materials a "Notice of Mechanic's Lien" in the office of the clerk of the county commission where the property is located. See: http://www.zlien.com/forms/Mechanics-Lien-West-Virginia.pdf.
Once you file it with the clerk, you can also send a copy to DMV. Also, you will need to file suit against him to enforce the mechanic's lien and get payment and get the car.

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