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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 33260
Experience:  Practicing for over 20 years and handled many cases and trials for consumers.
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I took a collector farm tractor to a shop to be restored. A

Customer Question

I took a collector farm tractor to a shop to be restored. A year later and 10 months overdue and $3,000 over the $6,000 initial estimate they returned it painted and the new parts we bought installed, but leaving a 1 foot dent in the hood, overspray on the tires, lights not working, bolts coming loose and more. I gave him the final $1,395 check the night we picked it up so he'd release the tractor and the next morning I stopped the check as I was so disgusted with the workmanship especially a big 1 foot dent that I can send you a picture of. This below is the letter he sent me last week - and below that a short email I got yesterday morning below that. Would it be a good idea to not reply at all? Or to email him back that I plan to not pay the remainder of this invoice since he is legally liable for the negligent work and restoration done to the tractor and failure to repair in a timely. And tell him in addition he'll need to pay for the costs for us to take the tractor to another shop for the repairs and body work it needs. Or maybe you can give me some other options to consider?
Also he says in his first message that he asked repeatedly for us to come and inspect the tractor and that is not true at all. He never messaged or called on that once and we still working on the tractor when we came to get it. In fact we have been asking him for finish dates and a schedule all this year which he never supplied. I'm attaching the original invoice we signed, and if you wish I can also send the revised invoice which still showed a Nov. 2014 completion date and then the final invoice dated 9-16-15. Neither of those we signed. Thanks!
-Robert Krull, The Tractor Barn, Inc., Brentwood, TN
Received: Thursday, October 1, 2015
Robert,
The check, #41534, in the amount of $1,395.00 remitted to me on the evening of September 30th, 2015 by your hand, upon your receipt of the tractor has been found non-negotiable as of this morning October 1st, 2015. Upon receipt of this payment, given willingly by you, I willingly released the tractor to your possession that evening. This legally represents a completion of work and acceptance regardless of a debate over a malfunction of a 45 year old electrical device, headlight or any other flaw at the time of delivery. You had ample time and were asked repeatedly to visit and inspect the tractor prior to the shipper arriving with you to pick up. Executing a stop-check after the fact represents fraud and intentional mis-direction to receive the tractor without final payment. If a replacement and fully negotiable bank cashier's check is not remitted to me and in my possession within 72 hours, a mechanic's lien will be placed upon the tractor and Mecum Auctions in Walworth shall be notified of the dispute. This lien shall impede the sale of the tractor in question until this debt is paid. A personal or business check will not be accepted.
"Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-19-101 allows a mechanic to assert a lien for repairs performed on”any type
of conveyance used in the transportation of persons or merchandise either by land or by water or
through the air” that are performed at the request of the owner. Under T.C.A. § 66-19-102, this lien
lasts 12 months or until the end of the lawsuit to enforce the lien."
"Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-121 Criminal Offenses Against Property - Worthless checks states "(a) A person
commits an offense who, with fraudulent intent or knowingly: (2) Stops payment on a check or similar sight order
for the payment of money for the purpose of paying any fine, fee, tax, license or obligation to any governmental
entity or for the purpose of obtaining money, services, labor, credit or any article of value; provided, that the money,
credit, goods or services were as represented at the time of the issuance of the check or similar sight order."
All other legal resources will be used to recover this debt including small claims court, the Better Business Bureau et al. Any and all correspondence will be used for this purpose. All court filings will be made in Williamson County, TN and shall include recovery of court costs and attorneys fees.
To avoid further litigation, a bank cashiers check in the amount of $1,395.11 is to be remitted immediately to: ***** *****
Franklin, TN 37064
See attached copy of the invoice edited in your hand with the agreed deduction of $150 for paint negotiation and the previous $1,000 payment against the total of $2,545.11 for a balance due of $1,395.11. A copy of the check in question is included.
Regards, ***** *****(###) ###-####
Received: Monday, October 5, 2015 8:54 AM
Robert,
I need a response to this email before 12:00 pm today about payment. Otherwise, I will seek a mechanic's lien against the tractor.
Eric Gardner
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

Unfortunately, you can't pay and then issue a stop payment because you don't approve of the work that was done. In that scenario you lose every time and none of the other factors matter.

What you can do is file a lawsuit in regular court or small claims court and seek to recover the money that you have paid or you can seek to recover what it takes to correct the poor work.

In addition to their civil remedies they can also ask the DA to file criminal charges against you for what is generally known as "theft of services". Of course, this is something you want to avoid both because of the danger associated with criminal charges but in addition because of the extra expense associated with it including a bond, hiring an attorney, etc. I would be more concerned about this area than the mechanic's lien.

If you choose to hire a lawyer to file the case then you can recover their fees as well as the damages.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks good answers. When you say "I would be more concerned about this area than the mechanic's lien." Do you mean you would be more wary of filing "Theft of Services" charges than fighting a mechanic's lien?

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, at least on a temporary basis. Not all DAs will file these type of charges, some will say "it's a civil matter" but if they do file the case is pretty easy to win from their point of view and thus you have to spend the money on a lawyer, you have to make decision on whether or not to take probation, etc.

In your civil lawsuit you should be okay if it has all the problems you mentioned, your lawyer can advise on how to prove that in a trial, but with a criminal case it's not just that you may lost it's the costs associated with just being charged.