Real Estate Law
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First, I'm surely going to accept your answer. By the way, who'd you clerk for?
If I may continue (for potential bonus), what if he has no valid claim to the money? I assume there's always at least some debatability on that point, which would mean he can, unfortunately for me, probably place the lien, even without any plans to enforce it, right?
Or do I have an argument here? I.e., "he doesn't have a valid claim to the money, as I can demonstrate by showing he did a terrible job the first time around -- which, along with some other factors -- means his claim wasn't 'valid'? So when he placed an invalid lien, without plans to enforce it, he was just abusing process." Any good?
If that's an argument at all, is that my only one? I.d., do I have any other possible way to go about this? Do you think I'm probably out of luck?
Or, might a different argument work -- i.e.: "He had no reason whatsoever to believe the property would be sold ever, let alone soon, so he didn't file the lien anticipating full payment from a sale. Rather, he did it just to harrass me -- which is abuse of process."
Also, will a small claims court judge understand all this? Is this basic law around here? I'm inclined to assume a judge there doesn't know squat, like the one I encountered a while back in traffic court. Then again, I guess he (or she) doesn't have to give us a ruling on the spot, so he could go back and look it all up (if he has the energy).
By the way, if I punch "Accept," can I keep this dialogue going, or will I lose you forever (like my beloved childhood dog)?
My situation is between the two you describe: he IS a contractor, and he DID do work on the house, so he has a more than colorable argument that his lien is a good one, right? I mean, it's not like he has never been there or met me. On the other hand, I believe I can show the lien is INVALID. Does that give me any room for claiming damages? (Probably not.)
Note that he did do something else that is abusive, i.e., he wrote the D.C. Bar Association and claimed I was falsely practicing law without a license -- which is absurd. (I was a member of that bar about 200 years ago.) That letter was a plainly (I think) vengeful move. It had nothing to do with this garage door. And the D.C. Bar has shown no evidence of concern at all, since I wrote and told them it was ridiculous.
Do you see any room for an argument either based on that alone, or based on that plus the other matter involving the lien? I.e., couldn't I say, "Look, this guy is clearly after me. Can't I get some penalties to make him stop?"
Also, could I just go in and assert a general argument of, "He shouldn't have done it, it was a waste of my time and the court's time, and he should be required to compensate me"? Note that I paid him about $3,000 out of his bill for $3,500, but he never cashed the check. So if he wins on the lien claim, he'll get the full $3,500, I think. But a court could call it a draw and award nothing to either side -- which would really give me a $3,000 victory.
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