Consumer Protection Law
Consumer Protection Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
Hi! LegalGems here. I have extensive consumer law experience and will use this to assist you with your issue today. I am very sorry to hear of this. I am glad to hear that you have documented evidence of possession of your car, so that it does not become a verbal contest. In California, small claims court has jurisdiction for cases up to $10,000, but there jurisdiction is only limited to monetary issues - for example, they cannot order specific performance (return of the car) or order any injunctions ( a court order to refrain from doing something). So you have a couple of options. If your car is worth less than $10,000 you can sue in small claims for breach of contract (failing to repair) and for interference with personal property and conversion (interfering with the use of your car, and converting it to his own use). You could claim the value of the car as your damages. http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm
In contrast, if your car is worth over $10,000, or you would like a court order for specific performance (repair and more importantly return the car), then you would need to file in limited civil (up to $25,000). This process is much more time consuming and complicated, and generally an attorney is recommended. As damages, you can request the cost of a rental car, as it would be reasonably foreseeable that a consumer would have to rent a car for transportation. This should be addressed in any subsequent demand letters. You can find your court here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court.htm
Here are the forms you will need for breach of contract. http://courts.ca.gov/forms.htm?filter=CO If you are filing for specific performance, the complaint would need to be drafted on pleading paper as they do not have a pro forma form. In this case, it is highly advisable to hire an attorney - consumer law. http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/LawyerReferralServicesLRS.aspx
Often times, demand letters written by the affected party will be ignored. In such a case it is a good idea to hire an attorney to write the demand letter. You need not retain the attorney at that point, as California permits attorneys to offer Limited Scope Representation - basically a piecemeal approach to hiring an attorney - you only pay for the desired service, in this case a demand letter. Often times, they will do it for a reasonable fee, knowing the client will likely return to them if no response is received, in which case they will often be retained as attorney of record.
Here's some information on unbundled legal services. http://www.americanbar.org/groups/delivery_legal_services/resources.html
It is approved by the state bar as an affordable option to legal services.
The Bureau of Auto Repair usually will mediate for the parties and try to come to a resolution. I am not sure when you filed, but it is possible that due to budget cuts there is a processing delay. You may want to inquire about the anticipated time frame. In the past, filing complaints with BAR was an effective alternative for the consumer, as this agency regulates the repair industry and can suspend/revoke the license; so generally a shop will take a complaint seriously.
As you will see below, BAR notifies the consumer within 10 days of receiving the complaint, so if you haven't been notified, you may want to contact them.
A BAR supervisor will review your complaint to decide if the shop may have violated the Automotive Repair Act or other law.
The BAR representative will try to resolve the matter between you and the repair shop. Although BAR cannot represent you in court, collect money, or levy fines for you, the BAR representative will contact the owner or manager of the shop, describe your complaint, and attempt to negotiate a resolution.
Both parties will be kept informed.
BAR will ask you and the repair shop to confirm the final resolution, and BAR will notify you when the case is closed.
If it appears that the shop may have violated the Automotive Repair Act, the BAR representative will gather documentation (evidence) to decide whether to advise the repair shop manager or open a formal investigation.
Each year, BAR negotiates millions of dollars in rework, refunds, and adjustments for California consumers. If you feel
The fact that you don't have receipts should not be a huge factor, since you have written confirmation from the owner re: hiding the car. Often times, when a party is deemed to act with malice, a court will award the other party attorney fees and costs, so this should be considered when filing a complaint.
Thank You Sir