I worked 11/6/15 - 2/12/16 from my home in Cambridge under an agreement ("quoted" hereafter) with BITS Inc. of Falls Church, VA to write software for TIAG Inc. of Reston, VA. TIAG paid BITS and BITS paid me. On the phone they called it "corp-to-corp" and I incorporated for this purpose. I used the corporation
name only once, on their "Vendor
Direct Deposit Enrollment" form for "Vendor Name", and used my name as "Name of Person Completing Form". For the bank account I used my personal bank account.
"Contractor shall submit an invoice on the last day of a calendar month for services performed. Invoices shall be paid 30 calendar days after receipt of a correct invoice and previous month report." My 3 invoices detailed what I was doing each minute. I also constantly forwarded emails detailing my work at their request. "Company or contractor may terminate by giving 30 days written notice."
During January this year I was told by TIAG that the programmers who know their system well (I never worked on it before) are more productive that I am, and that is a concern. On 1/29/16 I received an email from BITS saying "We plan on removing you from the team 2/12/16." On 2/11/16 they wrote again, using the word "terminated". On 2/12/16 the project leader announced that she is sad to say that I have to leave the project, and she and the other programmers thanked me for a job well done and wished me luck on my next assignment with BITS. We planned an informal reunion as soon as I can make it.
"Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this Agreement will be submitted to and settled by mediation. Within 10 days the parties shall agree upon a sole mediator. The mediation and final agreement shall occur within 30 days after appointment of the mediator and shall be final and conclusive. (Otherwise) the claim may be submitted to and settled by arbitration in Fairfax County, Virginia, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. Each party shall bear the cost of its attorneys' fees. The parties submit to the jurisdiction
of the state and federal courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia and waive any objection to jurisdiction in any Virginia state or federal court."
Q1. Can I sue him under Massachusetts or Virginia state law?
Q2. Which jurisdiction would be most favorable to me?
If I tried to sue him under Massachusetts law:
Q3. When should we know if it will be allowed?
Q4. If not allowed, how does that affect my chances for successful arbitration?
Q5. How many hours would this typically take for:
A. Filing suit?
B. Settle before the trial?
C. Having the trial?
D. Enforcing the judgment?
Q6. Will I be able to attach his bank account, Union Bank and Trust Company in Virginia?
Q7. Should I try to involve his customer, TIAG?
BITS has a time-sheet system in which each time-sheet it "approved" by the manager who hired me. At first they immediately approved my time-sheets and paid my invoice on-time. But when my final date was known, they made a number of calculated and unusual moves designed to keep as much of my pay as they could while allowing me to finish the contract for their customer.
1. They approved the time-sheets as long as there was future work, but refused to approve my last time-sheet after which there was no more work.
2. They were late paying my last invoice that was due while I was working, then told me they had money problems while acknowledging they owe me the money, claiming other contractors weren't getting paid either. However, they have another worker continuing on this project who in fact is continuing to be paid. I never received payment for that invoice and have no approved time-sheet for the last invoice due in the future
3. They asked me to interview for another project, but took the unprecedented move of arranging for the client to pay me directly, thus removing them from responsibility and my ability to withhold future work based on not being paid for past work.
So now I have been paid for less than 1/4 of my work and they are attempting to start up another contract independent of my first contract.
Q8. Is his misconduct normally grounds for:
A. Treble damages?
C. Suing him in Massachusetts or Virginia court because it goes beyond the agreement?
I have been paid (rounded to k=$1,000.00) $12k for my first invoice. I have not been paid $16k for my 2nd, overdue, invoice, $16k for my 3rd invoice (due in 1 week) or $8k for my 4th invoice that I can only bill in 1 week, a total of $39k due. If we count the 2 weeks I missed because they violated the 30 day notice clause, that's an additional $8k for a total of $47k unpaid.
Q9. How much would you charge by the hour?
Q10. How much would you charge on contingency in state court or arbitration, if settled before filing suit, after filing but before the trial, after the trial and after judgment is enforced?
Q11. At this point could you say what you think I should do?
I would want this to be on contingency only of the rate were a lot less than 1/3.
I would be interested in trying for treble damages in Massachusetts, depending on your answers to Q1-Q4