I hope this message finds you well, present circumstances excluded. Even when a written contract is not in place, you can have a verbal contract, which still has the same force and effect. The problem with a verbal contract is that it is typically harder to prove in a court of law, but it is not impossible.
In order to show a verbal contract, you must be able to prove the following elements:
(1) You must be able to prove an offer (in this case, you offer your services for sale);
(2) Acceptance of the offer (he made the request for the product); and
(3) Consideration (this is money paid or work performed).
Based on what you have told me, it would seem that you have all of the elements of a verbal or oral contract in place and likely can prove the elements both through emails cataloged as well as through shipment receipts and the like.
Even though you have conversed with this individual numerous times, I would advise you to place him on official legal notice via certified mail with a return receipt that you intend to sue him for the remainder if he does not pay. You may want to recite the elements above and how you intend to prove them. Give him another bill for services as an attachment to the letter. Give him a reasonable amount of time (like 10 business days from the date of the letter) to make a payment in full. Tell him if he does not, you intend to file suit against him and not only seek what is owed but also punitive damages and attorney fees.
You should be able to file suit against him in your home state if he has ever availed himself to the state (if he has ever conducted business with someone in your state). Since you are located in different states, you could also sue him in federal court as well under diversity jurisdiction. Depending on the amount in question, you could even file suit in small claims court potentially.
In short, it appears you have a solid verbal contract and that this person is in violation of that contract. If he fails to pay the amount in full, you need to file suit against him. It is good practice to place him on official legal notice via certified letter with a return receipt. This will be good evidence on your behalf before the court to illustrate your attempts at reasonableness and only using the court system as a means of last resort.
Let me know if you have any additional questions or comments.
Best wishes going forward.
I hjave email orders in writing, oral conversations, but also written purchase orders with quantities, prices, etc.
So back to my original question, is a purchase order an equivalent to a contract? If so is it an exact equal?
If it is not, how much legal power does a purchase order have as far as legal proof of an agreement on a scale of 1 to 100? I ahev the purchase orders attached to emails so I can prove they were sent by him, and until I aksed him to py, there wa no question as he would not pay.
He has never been to colorado and I will be in California, so it is easier for me to sue him there. He is in Sacramento; do I have to go to Sacramento or can I sue him in small claims court in LA? Also, what is the limit for small claims court and can I split it into two cases if the amount exceeds the limit. Is this small claims court material or do I need a lawyer. if small claims court is acceptable, can you give me a laundry list of what I need to bring?
Can you also give a sample of a letter to send him for small claims? (If I use a lawyer I would assume that the lawyer would send the letter. )
Thanks again in advance for your quick answer.
So back to my original question, is a purchase order an equivalent to a contract? If so is it an exact equal? It is the equivalent to a contract in that it is your offer, his acceptance and request and authorizes you to perform work, which is consideration.
He has never been to Colorado and I will be in California, so it is easier for me to sue him there. He is in Sacramento; do I have to go to Sacramento or can I sue him in small claims court in LA? Also, what is the limit for small claims court and can I split it into two cases if the amount exceeds the limit. Is this small claims court material or do I need a lawyer. if small claims court is acceptable, can you give me a laundry list of what I need to bring?
You can sue him in California and it needs to be in the jurisdiction in which a substantial portion of the activities regarding the deal took place. The claim limiting amount in California small claims court is $10,000. You cannot file two separate actions to get around that amount. He would simply file a motion to consolidate based on same transaction or occurrence and it would negate both actions potentially. Moreover, the court would not allow this to take place.
This is small claims court material and can be settled by a small claims court. That being the case, it is always best to have an attorney you trust representing you in the matter. However, you must also weigh the costs of an attorney relative to what you stand to gain (or lose). At that point, it is a simple cost/benefit analysis...really a business decision. In short, hiring a lawyer is always more likely to end with a favorable result, but this is something that can be handled by you in small claims court.
You need to bring with you any and all evidence you have of the deal, including but not limited to, purchase requests, receipts, emails, your certified letter, affidavits of you and your employees of the work performed, etc. You need to concentrate on those elements listed above and what evidence you have to prove those elements.
Can you also give a sample of a letter to send him for small claims?
RE: Invoice For Work Performed
I hope this letter finds you well. I write to you to place you on official legal notice that you are in material breach of our verbal contract and to demand payment within the next 10 business days from the post mark of this certified letter.
As you know, for a valid verbal contract to be entered into by two parties, there must be an offer, and acceptance and consideration. (you may want to attach a copy of the purchase order and state "Please See The Attached Purchase Order"). This purchase order and the worked performed by my business as consideration are evidence of our agreement.
You are clearly in breach of this agreement and currently owe my company $XXXX (Please see the attached invoice). Your attempts to make partial payment and return inventory are not acceptable under the terms of our agreement.
If you do not make payment for the full amount of the invoice within the next 10 business days, I will have no choice but to bring a law suit against you for what is owed. As you know, we have more than ample evidence to prove our claim against you. In addition to making a claim for the amount owed, if forced to file suit we will also seek court costs, attorney fees and even punitive damages.
At (name your business) we pride ourselves in delivering a quality, satisfactory product to our clients. We pride ourselves on honesty, integrity and dignity. We do not associate with companies or individuals that do not aspire to these attributes as well. Moreover, we will defend our rights zealously when infringed upon. As such, we respectfully XXXXX XXXXX request that you make prompt payment so as to avoid litigation on this matter.
Feel free to contact me at any time. However, from this point forward, please only make contact in writing via letter or email.
Let me know if you have any additional questions.
Thank you for the seasoned advice--EXACTLY what I needed and well explained.
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).