Consumer Protection Law
Consumer Protection Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
Hello - did you want your previous Expert to help you, or may I answer this second question for you?
Jane Doe Deer
Great. Please give me a few minutes to read through your first question. I also have two other customers at the moment.
Be back asap!
That's really multi tasking Of course the time difference means that I may have to run off to deal with work matters, but I'll check to see what is happening regularly.
If you can afford to write off $13,000, wouldn't you rather have it go to charity?
In some US States, the statute of limitations for breach of contract is six or more years, not three.
Your first Expert is right - notify the consumer protection offices in all states involved.
In addition, however, I would file a complaint with the federal office, at ftc.gov.
Now, if this company was going to transport your boat across the water, it is likely that Maritime laws would apply. Unfortunately, I only have a 14 foot kayak, so have learned nothing of these laws. I just want you to keep that in the back of your mind.
It's also possible that the US' Uniform Commercial Code would apply. I think it would depend on whether or not your boat would be consider "goods" being transported, or whether there is a separate section that would be spot on. Again, I'm just raising the question, but don't know the answer.
Now, only a green attorney who only passed the bar in the last year or so is going to take a case for 1/3 of $13,000, or approximately $4400.00
Just doing the research can easily consumer 6 to 10 hours, writing the complaint another 10....you get the idea.
HOWEVER...some states provide treble damages for consumer protection violations. Some states provide the award of attorneys' fees and costs. In federal courts, and some states, courts award penalties. Suddenly, you're looking at the possibility of a lot more than $13,000 PLUS the possibility of attorney's fees/costs.
So, it seems to me that you hired the wrong attorney. If this case can be filed in federal court (and it may well be possible), you can hire practically any attorney in the US, licensed in any state.
I would try large firms first, perhaps ones dealing with international cases. Try to get references, but also try some big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco....
Every state has a listing of attorneys online these days and a referral listing through the individual bar association.
In addition, most states have an association of trial attorneys - these are usually plaintiffs' attorneys.
For example, here are the listings for Arkansas:
Don't actually HIRE an attorney without first checking references. You can make an appointment for a phone consultation - offer to pay in advance by credit card or Paypal. Don't try to get the attorney on the phone - make an appointment. This is a professional.
Ask references such questions as does he/she procrastinate? Produce understandable invoices? Etc.
By the way - I am going on the assumption that you've already written to the company. If not, your first step should be to send a certified, return receipt, registered overnight letter demanding repayment no later than (put in a time and date). I suggest also demanding interest.
May I be of further help? This is a holiday week for us in the US, and I am visiting relatives. This means there may be a bit of a longer delay than usual in my writing back to you, should you have follow-up questions.
Otherwise, if I've answered your question, pleases be so kind as to click "accept" so that I will be paid for my time.
Understood, but was your reply a question or venting? I'm not sure.
I thought I gave you some good reasons why you shouldn't just give up on this.
BTW, you said that you "contacted" the two state agencies. Did you just call them or did you file a formal complaint? (You needed to file formal complaints).
If it's not so much the money, here's an idea off the top of my head to throw your way. Most law schools have legal clinics, where students learn to practice law under the supervision of an experienced attorney/professor. If the money isn't the issue, perhaps a law clinic would take this on as a teaching/learning experience. You could donate anything "won" to the school and perhaps get a tax write off (at least, in the US). They could perhaps agree to do the needed initial research for this type of case for free. Just a thought.
Let's make sure I understood your original question correctly. The way I understood it, you paid $13,000 US to a company to move your boat home, across international waters. They breached the contract and kept the money.
Please correct me if I've misunderstood.
Otherwise, how may I be of further help to you? I'd be happy to try.
No, it was not necessarily "venting", it was really to gather an idea as to whether this level of monetary loss is customarily worth pursuing in US courts. In Australia, it is a small court or minor court issue and these can often NOT be worth pursuing. The question was really one of a pragmatic enquiry. If I was to spend say a couple of thousand dollars up front on preliminaries, that would not bother me too much, as I think there is a principle here on web based purchases. Secondly, it was a combination movement of a boat (not boat home), but I guess that is immaterial. Thirdly, the complaints were lodged online to the agencies, but I did not get a response from either agency. I do understand the issues you have mentioned, and I guess I am in a position where the loss of the $13000 is "absorbable" whereas for most it would not be. However, if you were to say to me that in the circumstances, the chances of recovery of anything is poor, then I would not waste money on pursuit. If, however, there is a better than even chance that the money could be recovered, it is worth it. BTW, is it reasonable to have an attorney who is not from the actual town of Hope? There are a number in Little Rock, but that is some distance away. I am not familiar with the requirements of filing actions in US courts. If someone had to travel from say Little Rock to Hope to file an action, there goes the $13000 if you see what I mean. Once you have maybe answered this final query, I am happy to accept
You are my first customer to write so well, and it's a pleasure to talk with you.
Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the contract and other evidence to form an opinion on whether this is worth pursuing. An attorney making this evaluation would want to read the contract and any other relvant documents. He or she would want to know every fact involving the transaction, research the company, research the law....And, of course, the attorney would look into the company's finances - it's not worth suing anyone if they're neither solvent nor insured.
You can do your own preliminary research into the company's finances. If it appears to be solvent, the next step would be to pay an attorney to read through the paperwork - you could limit the time to, say, three hours. That should be plenty of time to review a contract and talk with you on the phone.
After that, you'd be in a better position to know whether to pursue this. Do you see why I can't just give you a yes or no answer?
Assuming it was, basically, a simple job, as I described above - a fee for service if you will - AND the company is solvent - then it seems (so far) worth pursuing, especially if you are awarded treble damages.
In regards XXXXX XXXXX to file/attorneys/etc. (jurisdiction):
The answer usually can be found in where a defendant lives or does business. If a company conducts business all over Arkansas, one can file a lawsuit in any county in Arkansas (put another way, any court in Arkansas that can hear matters of the particular type).
I don't myself recollect all the ins and outs of when cases can or can't be filed in federal (US, rather than state) court, but because this involves an international contract I'm fairly positive the case could be filed in federal court, giving you more flexibility regarding where to find an attorney and court.
In regards XXXXX XXXXX Little Rock/Hope question...attorneys rarely file cases themselves. In fact, the few that do are either new or small-time.
Cases can be filed using a "legal messenger service," and the costs are usually similar anywhere that that LMS provides coverage. In most places, cases are filed by clerical staff in the office, mailed, or filed electronically (in an increasing number of courts).
There would be a difference in cost, however, for travel fees for the attorney for depositions, court appearances, and so forth. That's something to consider.
I'd be happy to be of further help. It's 5:54 pm here, however, and I may need to continue our discussion tomorrow.
If I've answered your question, I'd be most grateful if you would "accept."
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).