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I am sorry to hear about the situation. Someone in your situation can file in small claims court for breach of contract. "It has long been the law in Colorado that a party attempting to recover on a claim for breach of contract must prove the following elements: (1) the existence of a contract . . . (2) [substantial] performance by the plaintiff or some justification for nonperformance . . . (3) failure to perform the contract by the defendant, and (4) resulting damages to the plaintiff." Western Distributing Co. v. Diodosio, 841 P.2d 1053, 1058 (Colo. 1992).
Even if the contract was not in writing, verbal contracts are STILL enforceable, but are just harder to prove. Thankfully, those communications help to establish that there was a contract. The only times that a verbal contract cannot be enforced are listed under Col. Rev. Stat. § 38-10-112:
Void agreements. (1) Except for contracts for the sale of goods which are governed by section 4-2-201, C.R.S., and lease contracts which are governed by section 4-2.5-201, C.R.S., in the following cases every agreement shall be void, unless such agreement or some note or memorandum thereof is in writing and subscribed by the party charged therewith: (a) Every agreement that by the terms is not to be performed within one year after the making thereof; (b) Every special promise to answer for the debt, default, or miscarriage of another person; (c) Every agreement, promise, or undertaking made upon consideration of marriage, except mutual promises to marry.
For more on how to file in small claims, see HERE (guide) and HERE (forms & instructions).
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