Have Legal Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
Ha... Well, alas that's likely why I'm stumped, as I can't quite define where to focus..
I want to address their counsel, and I don't know where to focus first.
My hope is to convince their counsel to advise them to withdraw.
I need assistance in determining whether I should focus on declaring "tort" damages (somehow assigning asking amounts $$), and push this as a negotiating angle.
I also want to know how I can categorize the desire to be compensated for my time doing the plaintiff's job (creating an invoice), as part of those "general damages".
The Breaches of Inferred range from damaging pipe due to negligent actions taken by the techs, to trespass, to exposure to hazardous materials, negligent collection of materials samples for asbestos testing, misleading of data/omission of facts/data which led to an insufficient claim reward by the insurance company, other, and outright leaving us with a disaster on our hands, for which they had been hired to remedy.
In short, aside from legal fees, they declare we owe them $11,5k based on a mutually agreed upon errant estimate.
I went through everything and legitimately, they're owed, by their rates, $4k for the work they did.
They damaged real property to the tune of $1800
I asked for an additional $6k in consideration for me doing their job for them. My time, energy...
I then stated that, if they would agree to withdraw their complaint, I would withdraw our counterclaim (which would include the $1800 + $6k) and we'd walk away, both, and drop this for good. However, the way I have stated it is insufficient on legal grounds for their counsel to properly advise them to withdraw, it's not "legal" enough, it's too "principle". He's eluded to this...
ADditionally, we had our offer reviewed by a local attorney, but discovered after the fact he has no experience in litigation.
His remark was that our offer, with all its evidence, was legally acceptable, reasonable, and in his opinion, solid. However, this doesn't seem to be the case. I get the sense that the plaintiff's counsel is almost leading us to give him more "law" to do something with... as he is obviously aware we are representing pro se.
I have reviewed cases where the judge has awarded damages for pro se fees (not federal, but other courts).
I would like an angle that I can present that my time to generate the invoice (their responsibility) has nothing to do with the litigation, as this was something we discussed and were attempting to generate successfully before there was a complaint filed, and due to their refusal to redraft and/or provide necessary documentation/notes/images/etc., in spite of agreeing to do so, we were unable to succeed. They stopped communications.
Further, if this angle is not feasible, I'd like to consider perhaps declaring consequential damages (to include the real property damage, as well as loss of use of property - not returned to pre-disaster state, for which they'd been hired for, in a timely manner), or whatever angle I might have.
As we filed the counterclaim indicating our desire for "damages" consideration (but didn't declare what sort). Perhaps viewing under the "breach of contract - duty" angle... given the circumstances.
I do not intend to pay these people for work they didn't do, damages they caused, grief they left us in, their negligence, and the fact remains there still is NO BILL, no collection effort, and no late invoice even, as there is no invoice..
I need this to go away so I can heal emotionally from the trauma of all of it, including them invading my home and not leaving when instructed to do so; I fear them.
If there is a judgement based on anything but a legal game of gotchya, this will be dismissed.... don't suppose this will happen in our just system, but maybe.
I understand, and you're correct. I want an answer to make this cease, to cause them to drop the suit. I don't care if I get any money I want to move on, and not remit anything further to them. They've already robbed me enough. I need whatever solution I might have to attempt to convince their side to withdraw.
Barring that... to convince the judge (rural, and already made it evident he is favoring the plaintiff).
Another possibility, though remote... They didn't present their contract to me, they only presented to my spouse. They have sued us both, independently.
The tech didn't present to me because he knew, based on our conversations, that I'd never sign it. They presented to do work in the evening, and then insisted we had to sign the contract the following day, or we'd have a serious problem on our hands..
They intimidated my husband, having already installed their equipment, etc, knowing we live in an area of very limited professional resource/services, and knowing we had a massive flood, effecting 1/3 of our home, while temperatures outside were -30 (not exaggerating), which effected our ability to live/stay in our home. It was signed under duress, and not before work began, but presented the next under demand - we had no choice, they'd already begun... they'd pull out and leave us and not assist further logistically or with the insurance claim/estimate side of things, if we didn't sign, if HE didn't sign. They still have no signed contract from me, but I suppose they could infer my cooperation...
Cost: I don't have endless resources to throw at this (they're all wrapped up in repairing my home, still), and I would rather not be ruined, and as I have little faith in the system, or the ruling entities in our region...
Intimidated: I've never done this before... cannot afford representation, even if I won and they were ordered somehow to pay for it, that is a great risk.
Third, emotionally, it's left me a wreck, and trying to think straight enough to present all the instances to which they were negligent, harmful, or simply get the confusion straightened out (like, the fact that there remains no invoice they haven't openly acknowledged as errant)... I don't have any confidence that their attorney won't talk circles and just pull one legal loop after another.
Finally, I don't knew if I have already surpassed my option to request a jury trial, since I didn't do that initially??
I have, but do not know how to request... I presented this idea in a pre-trial conference between us, the judge, and their counsel. It wasn't refused, but not something their side did anything with.
At what point in the process have I lost my option to request a jury? Which means even more expense..
Possibly, but not likely. I feel as though they have wronged us so extensively, that the wound they created, and the salt they now smugly rub in it... I'm not sure I can rationalize giving anything more, but maybe we should.
I don't know how to go about obtaining mediation locally.... we are in a very isolated area - very few services. I think it would have to be virtual meetings/conference calls/etc..
Trial... Mid May.
Seeing these people in person may trigger a panic attack... I am trying to avoid this too.
Unfortunately, it's really a mess... I should have pressed them when they ceased communications a long time ago I suppose, but I feared them as they'd already proven a threat to my safety by sneaking into my house, and then refusing to leave when ordered to do so.
I didn't call the police at the time because I was focused on keeping things flat and safe, not to provoke, for me and my 3 year old who was present. I just played their game until they were happy they'd completed their desires (violated me) sufficiently, and finally left.
I think I would like the possibility of a jury trial... but I am scared of what will be viewed as inadmissible, because whether or not it has any impact in reality, there's a chance legally it would be barred. And I'm swimming in a sea of unknown, with my financial future in the balance, not to mention mental health.
Continue with the trial as set.
Continue trying to persuade the plaintiff's counsel to advise withdrawal.
How do I determine whether I can ask for a jury trial?
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).