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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a businesses law attorney, with experience advising and representing owners and investors.
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In October 2011, I was asked by the man whose guest house I

Customer Question

In October 2011, I was asked by the man whose guest house I lived in to hero his daughter empty his storage unit. He had half of a long, random storage room in an apt building in Los Angeles, filled with the contents of a law library, a few decades of
clients legal files, some odds and ends, and about 60 identical boxes lining one of the walls. No one had been in the unit in about 7 years, and as it turned out, we weren't there to move things as much as decide what was to be done with everything. After
some deliberation it was decided that ask the client files were to be shredded, and the rest was going to landfill. Since that was the case, I decided to look around and in the boxes to see what was being discarded. Turns out they were filled with something
called a Stylophone 350S. It took me a second to figure out it was a synthesizer, but what staggered me was how pristine it was. It was like 4 decades hadn't happened. I brought one home determined that they would be sold to hipsters as retro, and did a Google
search. That was when I discovered that fewer than 3000 of them were ever made and someone was selling them for $400, though he had none in stock. I quick did the math and went down to the house and told them that we weren't throwing them away because it appeared
they had about $150,000 worth of inventory there. Everyone was excited because they'd tried to sell them to junk dealers on three separate occasions, the last being in 2003, but no one wanted them. But since that time the original company had been refounded
by the inventors son, and new products had been released. The man's wife who was running the household (he was ill and passed a few months after), told me she would split whatever I could get for them with me 50-50.We moved them all to be stored at the house,
and I went to work. Some I sold on eBay to see what they would go for, and I selected the most one went for ($550) as the "retail" price for a single unit. I continued to sell them on eBay for various prices, as well as constructed a web site to tell the story
and engaged in various social media promotions over the next few years. I wanted to sell all of them to a dealer, but I also knew that since so few of them had sold in the recent era or on eBay, that the longer I kept the price established at $550 each, the
more I would cement the current value of them online and in with the public, so I wasn't in a huge hurry. Her son also took a few cases of them for his friends or had me ship them out for him. Two years later, there was a flood in the main house, and several
of the units were damaged. I knew and expected that there would eventually be a settlement by insurance for the damanged units, and counted my half of that towards other money I owed her. A year later the house was in the process of being sold, and the personal
property claim was being settled. I went through all of the units to determine which were damaged and the adjustor brought in a subcontractor to determine which were broken. I collected about 120 which appeared damaged in any way but they determined 67 were
damaged, Since I was about to lose storage for the rest of them, I became more proactive about selling them, and found a delaler in the area who sold vintage music equipment who was quite enthusiastc about selling them on consignment, and we discussed a large
Christmas time push (it was now July) which he deterrmined he could easily sell them for $250 each, and felt he could sell at least a hundred of them with his social media presence that season. I returned home with the news to discover that all of them were
gone. All of them. I asked them where, and was told that the contractor came to pick up the rest of them. This utterly baffled me, but I just accepted that the owner's son had made some foolish decision. I helped them establish the average selling price for
each of them with insurance ($345) and since we were moving, produced a spreadsheet detailing sales and expenses, as well as other money I owed them, with the model that half of the insurance money for them would go to me. After I moved no one would tell me
where they were. Xmas retail season 2014 came and went. Last October the son called and asked me to lie to the insurance investigator and say that I had never been engaged in trying to sell them, but had just been given a few and sold them on my own. I never
spoke to the Investigator. To date, I have no answer where the inventory is, and clearly am out a substantial amount of money, which I now presume was made by the son. Do I have a reasonable claim to the inventory or its value at the time? I feel as if they
made money off of the value I helped create for them, since they were to discard all of them, and I was promoting them for years online. Is it likely I could get someonoe to take the case on contigency? The owner and her son have substantial resources.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
Dear Customer,Your best option here is to sue the owner in small claims court for breach of oral contract. (Be careful, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of the breach for oral contract). You can sue for up to $10,000.00 in small claims court without an attorney. The California Courts have information and resources (including forms) to assist you here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htmShort of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Small claims court is actually a pretty decent idea. At the end of the day, I couldn't reasonably expect too much more after expenses, and the hassle involved in a prolonged ordeal wouldn't be with the toll. I also haven't really wanted to sue her because it's probably her son that was pulling the strings in the whole ordeal, and it's unfortunate after living with her for so long and liking her as much as I do, that I would have to sue her, so I'll also look into mediation. Thanks. :-)
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
You are welcome, and I do wish you the best with this matter.Thank you for using our forum, and please do not forget to rate my service so that I can receive credit for assisting you.Thank you again, and again I wish you the best.Bill

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