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.3-311Accord 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,
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.
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