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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
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Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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I entered an aggreement with a man locally via a craigslist

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I entered an aggreement with a man locally via a craigslist add i had posted. i had two old racing go kart motors for sale. this gentleman agreed to buy them from me and said he would send the money for them, and i was to ship them to his engine builder who is out of state. i agreed to those terms. after waiting eight weeks with no money from said buyer i sold them to another person. four days after i sold the motors i received a 100 dollar (deposit) from the gentleman. i emailed the gentleman and informed him that i had sold the motors after waiting eight weeks and i would return his one hundred dollars to him. He then proceeded to tell me we had a legally binding contract and if i did not follow through with the sale he was going to sue me. what kind of mess have i gotten myself into?

Hello there and Happy New Year.

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When you talked with him and entered into this agreement, did you discuss when he was to give you a deposit or the timing of the payment terms?

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Was there anything in writing at all -- emails or anything to set the terms? Or was everything verbal?

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MARY

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
everything was verbal via a telephone call. he states that he has made several attempts to call me and email me after our last conversation but i have received no phone calls or emails until after i received his "deposit".
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
and happy new year to you as well

Hello again !

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Generally speaking, verbal contracts are enforceable in CA for up to 4 years. However, while you most likely had a loose verbal contract with him (which is questionable without having received a deposit from him), there is a rule of contractual performance called "time is of the essence" - basically he was required to take the next step in contractual performance by tendering the deposit in a timely manner and he failed to follow through, thus not completing the next step of the contract and breaching it. You had every right to turn around and sell to someone else who was interested and even if he were to pursue this matter into court he will not win such a case without telephone records showing that he called you and email proof that he actually tried to contact you (which I am sure that he probably did neither of these things but is trying to say this now in an effort to scare you into selling the items to him). I do not think you have anything to worry about here and my suggestion is to mail him the deposit back with a letter stating what I have said here -- that he should have tendered the deposit in a timely fashion to finalize a contract and when he failed to do so you still waited several weeks for him to contact you and when he failed to do so, you sold the items to the next interested party. Send it certified mail so he has to sign for it and if it is returned because he fails to pick it up, send it again via regular mail (and get proof of mailing from the post office -- it costs about 80 cents). Obviously, any person can sue someone else whether they have a case or not, but he will most likely not be able to find a lawyer to handle this and if he does, he would have to pay about $250 an hour to pursue the matter against you in a regular lawsuit setting. In CA he can take a case to small claims court for any amount up to $7500 without using an attorney. Either way, because of the late timeliness of the deposit tender, he failed to follow through in a legally acceptable amount of time therefore breaching any agreement between you - if one even existed to begin with and while you may end up being aggravated by him if he does pursue the matter and it will most likely cause some stress, but I cannot see him actually winning such a claim if he brings the matter to small claims court or a regular lawsuit.

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I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have further questions. If not, can you please press the 3rd, 4th or 5th smile face below so that I will be paid for my time. I am paid NOTHING unless you press the 3rd, 4th or 5th smile face below (I do not receive a paycheck -- this is not a hobby - it is how I earn a living in a slow economy at the moment). I really do appreciate your business !! THANK YOU

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MARY

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
lets say he could take this to court, what can he sue for? he is threatening a lien on my home and some other legal jargon that i dont understand.i mean they were litterally a couple old junk kart motors that were only good for parts. the way he explains it. if found in his favor could cost thousands for less than 500 dollars worth of parts

Hello again

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His "claim" would be for breach of an oral contract and it will be limited to the amount of his actual damages -- which will be the amount of money that you were willing to sell the motors for. The only way that a person can sue for additional compensation and attorneys fees is if the defendant is a large consumer corporation and then he could sue for violations of consumer protection laws, Because you are both private individuals, none of those laws apply here and any claim he makes would be limited to what we call in the law "actual damages" -- meaning what he actually lost. The more you tell me the more it sounds to me like he is simply trying to intimidate you into selling him the motors or paying him money if you do not have the motors any longer (he may even pull this on people all the time as a scam in order to try to scare money out of people as a "settlement" -- this has happened in many states in the not too distant past). Again, I refer you back to my prior answer and suggest that you send him the letter as noted. If he continues to call and harass you simply tell him that you are going to call the police if he does not leave you alone and you can and will charge him with harassment. While I cannot tell you 100% positively that nothing will come of this, the more you tell me here the more it sounds as if it is a scam and he deliberately waited this time in order to try to scare you into giving him money. I suggest that you give him nothing and tell him that he can do whatever he wishes to do and then wait to see what happens here. If he keeps calling you and refuses to stop, then call the police.

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MARY

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Please press the 3rd, 4th or 5th smile face below so that I will be paid for my time. I am paid NOTHING unless you press the 3rd, 4th or 5th smile face below. I really do appreciate your business !! THANK YOU

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