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Alexia Esq.
Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  19 Years of Legal Practice Experience in this precise field.
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"paid in full" legally enforceable in washington state? contract

Customer Question

"paid in full" legally enforceable in washington state? contract in dispute...contractor cashed check...now threatening "mechanics lien"
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for your inquiry! I have been practicing law for 17+ years and have specific experience with issues similar to yours. That being said...

Are you referring to a notation of "paid in full" written on a check?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes, it was cashed last week. There is a dispute on amount. House painting bid included a teaser rate of $50 to paint deck with house. I received 2 other bids with deck painting at $1000. Total amount virtually the same ($4000). I paid the last installment to $3000 (total) with a cover letter expalining above. I wrote paid in full (caps)on bottom left of check and indicated same in letter. Contractor cashed check and is now threatening mechanics lien. NOTE: contractor is franchisee for College Pro Painters which is bid's letter head (also getting call from CPP manager to resolve issue); however contractor works as self employed franchisee.


I consider contractor fairly & fully paid. Pierce County, WA state

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

did you receive my reply?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

referring to last response...deck was never painted

Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I have your responses, thank you. I'll be back shortly to post my answer. Thanks!
Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi again, and thank you for your patience. With regard to your post:

"paid in full" legally enforceable in washington state? contract in dispute...contractor cashed check...now threatening "mechanics lien"


Yes, it was cashed last week. There is a dispute on amount. House painting bid included a teaser rate of $50 to paint deck with house. I received 2 other bids with deck painting at $1000. Total amount virtually the same ($4000). I paid the last installment to $3000 (total) with a cover letter expalining above. I wrote paid in full (caps)on bottom left of check and indicated same in letter. Contractor cashed check and is now threatening mechanics lien. NOTE: contractor is franchisee for College Pro Painters which is bid's letter head (also getting call from CPP manager to resolve issue); however contractor works as self employed franchisee.


I consider contractor fairly & fully paid.
OK, so I think you are saying that you agreed to the contract for $4000. Then, you decided that he shouldn't get the $4000, because (I think) you now thought the $4000 was a bit steep. So you paid him less, and put paid in full on the check, and are wondering if he is bound by your statement on the check.

First, if the deck was agreed to at $50, it is likely you are bound then to the balance of $3950 unless you can show an accord and satisfaction. But, with regard to "paid in full" -

Generally marking 'paid in full' on the check does not eliminate the painter's right to collect the rest in Washington unless certain criteria is met.

Here is Washington's rules on this method of A & S:


RCW 62A.3-311

Accord and satisfaction by use of instrument.

(a) If a person against whom a claim is asserted [YOU] proves that


(i) that person [YOU] in good faith tendered an instrument to the claimant as full satisfaction of the claim,


(ii) the amount of the claim was unliquidated [such as no agreed to price in the contract, SO this doesn't apply, since you had an agreed to price] or subject to a bona fide dispute, [I don't think you have mentioned a bona fide dispute - you don't dispute you agreed to $4k, you only say you don't think it a fair price after the fact - this could be your biggest troubler] and


(iii) the claimant obtained payment of the instrument,


[THEN:]


the following subsections apply. [So, you need to meet the above, to avail yourself of the below possible discharge of debt..So, I think you may NOT succeed in getting the A&S discharge under the following section, since you may not meet the above...]

(b) Unless subsection (c) applies, the claim is discharged if the person against whom the claim is asserted proves that the instrument or an accompanying written communication contained a conspicuous statement to the effect that the instrument was tendered as full satisfaction of the claim. Yours could meet this, given your notation, IF you could get your situation to fall under this statute.

(c) Subject to subsection (d), a claim is not discharged under subsection (b) if either of the following applies:

(1) The claimant, if an organization, proves that (i) within a reasonable time before the tender, the claimant sent a conspicuous statement to the person against whom the claim is asserted that communications concerning disputed debts, including an instrument tendered as full satisfaction of a debt, are to be sent to a designated person, office, or place, and (ii) the instrument or accompanying communication was not received by that designated person, office, or place.

(2) The claimant, whether or not an organization, proves that within 90 days after payment of the instrument, the claimant tendered repayment of the amount of the instrument to the person against whom the claim is asserted. This subsection (c)(2) does not apply if the claimant is an organization that sent a statement complying with subsection (c)(1)(i).

(d) A claim is discharged if the person against whom the claim is asserted proves that within a reasonable time before collection of the instrument was initiated, the claimant, or an agent of the claimant having direct responsibility with respect to the disputed obligation, knew that the instrument was tendered in full satisfaction of the claim.



So, my thought is that you may have trouble with the "bona fide dispute" issue - but you could win if you could overcome that.


I hope this helps! Let me know if you need follow up before or after RATING me. And PLEASE know that my job depends on a POSITIVE rating now and at least an 8-10 feedback rating later. Thanks! I won't forget your support.

Sincerely,

Alexia Esq.



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Repeat reminder: Due to rules of our states, nothing herein is intended as legal advice, only intended as general information in order that you may have a starting point for helping yourself and presenting your issue to your lawyer if need be. I am an Attorney in the U.S. but I am not your attorney.

Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11716
Experience: 19 Years of Legal Practice Experience in this precise field.
Alexia Esq. and 4 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I just rated you Excellent and forwarded the maximum tip. You did a great job...especially giving me WA state law which is what I was looking for.


A follow up question (you can mark this case #2 if required--I understand I have 5 questions per month with my selected service). If I cannot prevail due to "no real dispute", can I prevail in enforcing the contractor to actually paint the deck (ie, force performance if I am forced to make full payment?)

Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Good morning, and Happy Sunday! What a nice post to wake up to. Thank you.


I just rated you Excellent and forwarded the maximum tip. You did a great job...especially giving me WA state law which is what I was looking for.So glad to hear it and thank you for your generosity.


A follow up question (you can mark this case #2 if required--I understand I have 5 questions per month with my selected service). Interesting! Didn't even know that they did that here :)

 

If I cannot prevail due to "no real dispute", can I prevail in enforcing the contractor to actually paint the deck (ie, force performance if I am forced to make full payment?) Yes, possibly! Why didn't he do it before? Did you tell him not to?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The contractor agrred he overcharged and accepted paid in full! Thank you!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Next question (serious inquiry): I have been supporting a GF over past year (this is so typical, I know). We agreed on a loan of $1200. Of course she did not pay and we have subsequently "broken up". I have a signed note (not notarized) with no collateral. In WA, you must file in small claims for under $5K. I am going to file this week and serve her. I will follow through with court and garnishment if I prevail (I have her address & bank number--but she will probably close that). I also have 2 emails "swearing to pay me back"///Question: will I be laughed out of court? (she probably will not even show)

Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hey, nice to see you and I am THRILLED that your contractor issue worked out as we'd hoped. With regard to your next question, normally I'd have to request that you put it into a new thread, to maintain the integrity of this one. However, your question is simple and I don't want to see you use up a "paid" up question:

Question: will I be laughed out of court? (she probably will not even show) - I don't see a single reason for you to be laughed out of court at all. You loaned her money, you have proof, she didn't pay you back - you win, and deserve to. This is what the court is for. Enforcing such contracts. I'd also ask for post judgment interest (and maybe pre-judgment?) and court/filing fees if the court so allows (small claims often do). That way you get more then the 1200, but your filing fees tacked on, etc.

Good luck!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Alexia...thank you so much!

Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Happy Holidays!

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