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Richard
Richard, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 54335
Experience:  Attorney with 29 years of experience.
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I hired a painter on a daily basis and signed a contract which

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I hired a painter on a daily basis and signed a contract which said that I am hiring him to "complete the following tasks". The daily rate was explicitly set at $150 per day and there was no provision of minimum number of days or minimum amount of work. I fired him for quality concerns and he threatened me to put a lien on my house. Can he do that? What are my options?
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.


Good afternoon. He could put a lien on your house, but it would be meaningless. They all threaten a lien thinking they will intimidate the homeowner. But, in order to do anything with a lien, the contractor would have to file suit against you within a specified period of time and prevail in the suit. Based on your facts, he would have no chance of prevailing and the court would order the lien released. If the contractor does not timely file the suit, the lien lapses by operation of law.



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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Attachment: 2013-04-29_201716_scan0056.pdf

This guy is in possesion of the key to my house and I have verbally told him to return the key to get the final check. He refused.

 

1) What do I need to do to handle the final payment? Shall I send the check of the final payment to Ron or shall I wait for him to file a lien and then settle with him? I am asking because he is going to file it any-ways.
2) If he exaggerates the number of days worked, how can I validate my point? An affidavit from one other person on site will be enough?
3) Can he use the phrase "hired to complete the following tasks" as "he cannot be fired till the tasks are not complete"?
Thanks so much for replying. 1) Unless he is going to agree that the amount you are paying him is acceptable and not file a lien and sue you, don't pay him. Rather, send him a letter by certified mail telling him you stand ready to pay him, but only on the condition he agree that your payment is in full satisfaction of any amounts owed. The key issue is always an issue when work has been done. In all cases where you have workmen in your home, whether or not they are willing to return the key, you want to have your locks re-keyed to be safe. 2) An affidavit will be sufficient. 3) He cannot...and even had you had a contract which provided that, you have the right to terminate him based on unsatisfactory work.
Richard and 4 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you so much for the positive rating! I appreciate having had the opportunity to serve you! If I can be of assistance to you in the future, just look me up and I will be happy to help!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear Legal Beacon,

 

I proceeded with your information and this guy has filed a suit against me. Copies attached. My questions are as follows.

 

1. Shall I opt for Jury trial or judge trial?

Attachment: 2013-07-31_163240_scan0001.pdf

2. Is the onus of proving unsatisfactory work on me?

3. Any recommendations on how should I present my case to the judge/jury.

4. Do you think there is any breach of contract that happened as he is claiming?

5. If he tries to skew the oral conversation, it will be his word against mine. How does the judge proceed in these settings?

 

Thanks for your help

Attachment: 2013-07-31_173731_response_for_ron-without_photos.docx

Hi there and thanks for following up on this. I have addressed each of your questions below in all capitalized texts...


1. Shall I opt for Jury trial or judge trial?
Attachment: 2013-07-31_163240_scan0001.pdf I DON'T THINK IT MATTERS MUCH...I THINK YOU'LL DO FINE EITHER WAY. IF IT WERE ME, I'D GO WITH THE JUDGE AS THEY WILL KNOW AND FOLLOW THE LAW.

2. Is the onus of proving unsatisfactory work on me? THE PLAINTIFF IS FILING THE SUIT, SO THE PLAINTIFF HAS THE BURDEN OF PROVING THE BREACH OF CONTRACT. BUT, SINCE THERE IS A CONTRACT, IF THE CONTRACTOR CAN PROVE THAT THERE WAS NO RIGHT TO TERMINATE ABSENT A BREACH, YOU WOULD THEN HAVE THE BURDEN OF JUSTIFYING YOUR TERMINATION.

3. Any recommendations on how should I present my case to the judge/jury. SIMPLY PRESENT YOUR STORY AND THEN BACK IT UP WITH AFFIDAVITS OF OTHERS ON SITE AND PICTURES AND TIMES/DATES TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE. JUDGES IN SITUATIONS LIKE THESE ARE USED TO PARTICIPANTS NOT HAVING EVERYTHING IN PERFECT ORDER.

4. Do you think there is any breach of contract that happened as he is claiming? BASED ON YOUR FACTS, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TERMINATE HIM. HE CAN NOT FAIL TO PERFORM AND THEN HIDE BEHIND THE CONTRACT. THE CONTRACT WORKS BOTH WAYS....IN ORDER TO BENEFIT FROM THE CONTRACT, HE HAS TO PERFORM SATISFACTORILY.

5. If he tries to skew the oral conversation, it will be his word against mine. How does the judge proceed in these settings? IN THE END, IT'S UP TO THE JUDGE; THAT'S WHY IF YOU CAN PRESENT AN AFFIDAVIT FROM THE OTHER PARTY OR PARTIES ON SITE, THE BALANCE WILL BE IN YOUR FAVOR.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear legal beacon,


 


I have attached the original contract in the posts above. Can you please take a look at that?


 


My whole point is that I hired him on a day-to-day basis and he is saying that since the contract says "provide labour for the completion of" it means that I cannot fire him without reason. In this event, will the burden of proof come on me.


 


I am saying that "provide labour for the completion of" does not mean the whole house. The scope was undetermined. Since the contract is at best ambiguous and was crafted by him, so I should be given the benefit the doubt and the contract be interpreted as day to day.


 


Secondly, since there was another painter working there throughout the duration that he was, question of exclusivity does not arise. Does this point support my case?


 


Thanks and I really appreciate your help!

Based on the contract proposal, I don't think he has any ability to prevail on this suit. That language "for the completion of" is not going to give him the right to continue indefinitely. Under his view, no matter how long it took, he would be entitled to $150.00. In my view, a court is going to hold that he's entitled to his daily rate for the days he worked, but is not going to be able to force you to continue this relationship once you determined his work and diligence to be unsatisfactory to you.