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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 38128
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I red a contractor to install a/c units in my home. The

Customer Question

I hired a contractor to install a/c units in my home. The contractor did a bad job and not even finished. Due to his error, the contract amount was reduced and the reduced amount was applied to future maintenance service. But the contractor did not fulfill its duties and I requested the refund of the future maintenance service fee. Then, the contractor issued the check for the refund and I signed the form assuming it was only for the future service fee. But come to find out the form stated that I release all liabilities against the contractor even though the project has not even completed.
Do I have any recourse in not releasing all liabilities related to this project by returning the check?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

If you signed a release, in exchange for payment by check in a certain amount -- and assuming that the check is good (which it may not be, so you may want to contact the bank on which the check was drawn), then that's an enforceable agreement, and your return of the check would be a unilateral rescission of the release agreement.

A unilateral rescission is only enforceable if you can prove your mistake, and the court determines that the mistake was made in good faith, rather than as a means to undo the contract. Note: "rescission" means to "undo" a contract.

You would have to send a letter stating that you are rescinding the release and returning the payment. After that, you may have to sue the contractor to enforce the rescission. Whether or not you would win or lose depends on the evidence available to prove your mistake. I would have to review literally everything involved in the transaction, from beginning to end, before I could give you a competent opinion about your chances of success.

But, the direct answer to your question, is, "yes," by returning the check, and providing a rescission letter, you can undo the release.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The contractor applied the reduced amount to the future service maintenance plan that was overcharged compared with other companies; therefore, I requested the refund for the future maintenance fee. The contractor gave me a check for the fee and I signed the form without reading the form because I only requested the refund for the future fee. But the contractor wrote on the form to release all present and future liabilities related to this project. As I stated, the project has not been completed and there are many problems with very poor work quality involved. Do I have any chance of getting out of signing this form? I will return the check tomorrow.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.

I believe my answer and your follow up info crossed paths. I will repost my answer below, so that you have it in sequence.

Hello,

If you signed a release, in exchange for payment by check in a certain amount -- and assuming that the check is good (which it may not be, so you may want to contact the bank on which the check was drawn), then that's an enforceable agreement, and your return of the check would be a unilateral rescission of the release agreement.

A unilateral rescission is only enforceable if you can prove your mistake, and the court determines that the mistake was made in good faith, rather than as a means to undo the contract. Note: "rescission" means to "undo" a contract.

You would have to send a letter stating that you are rescinding the release and returning the payment. After that, you may have to sue the contractor to enforce the rescission. Whether or not you would win or lose depends on the evidence available to prove your mistake. I would have to review literally everything involved in the transaction, from beginning to end, before I could give you a competent opinion about your chances of success.

But, the direct answer to your question, is, "yes," by returning the check, and providing a rescission letter, you can undo the release.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!