Thank you for your question and I'm very sorry to hear about your situation.
While oral contracts are enforceable, they do not generally apply to a situation where there is an agreement that takes longer than one year to perform.
In your case, you agreed to build a website in exchange for a percentage ownership of the website. How long did it take you to build the website?
Also, what percentage were you promised?
I look forward to hearing back from you.
It took less than a month to build from start to finish and can be seen here http://yulefinder.com.
I believe I was promised 12% but I can't prove it as nothing was put in writing. It was a "fun" project between "friends" that apparently did better than expected.
To date I have received no compensation.
Now they have requested a w9 and an invoice in order to pay me as a contractor for my work, but I surmise that means that I will be forfeiting any future profits should the website prove to be successful. My guess is that I was too trusting and am now out of luck and should probably take what I can get.
You do face an uphill battle. You would have to file a lawsuit against them for failing to pay you as you had verbally agreed. I believe that you may have an enforceable oral contract. However, the fact that you are going to have no one that will testify in agreement with you and it is your word against theirs, means that you may not be able to prove your case. Regardless, they will be liable to you for the amount of work done whether you sue them or not.
As that is the case, you might consider filing suit against them in small claims court and asking the court to enforce the oral contract. This would give you the chance to see if you can make them fess up to their promise and would only cost you a few hundred dollars (no need for an attorney).
You can find small claims information at: http://www.kscourts.org/rules-procedures-forms/small-claims-information/default.asp
Please let me know if you have further questions.
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