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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 117437
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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I recently sold a bread route. My lawyer handled it and I have

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I recently sold a bread route. My lawyer handled it and I have a signed contract and promissory note for $20,000. Payments were all set up. I believe the buyer abandoned the route and has not made one payment. My lawyer said that the buyer owns no property and it would cost between $2000 and $7000 to take him to court with no guarantees. Would small claims court make more sense at this point to at least try to recoup something?
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

In NY Small Claims court you can only sue for up to $5000 and that would be the most you could ever get once you get a judgment against them on this matter. If you pursue the buyer in the Supreme Court, even if you cannot get money because he owns nothing, you could get the court to give you the route back so you could seek to resell it if the route still has any value. If the route has no value any longer and he has no property you could collect from, then you can go to small claims if you decide you would be happy just trying to get only $5000 and nothing more. I say "trying" because even if you win $5000 in small claims, you would still have to collect it from him and if he has no money or property, you would still be faced with no way to collect.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Is there a length of time that I would need to act with either the promissory note or small claims? Am I in a time crunch with this? He has now missed 3 payments. Should I send a certified letter to him with my intentions? I do know that he runs another business but am not sure if it's actually his.

Getting the route back is not an option as I no longer have a driver to do it. It was my husband's route. When he died, I hired a driver until the route sold. I'd hate to invest more money if the outcome is so bleak. Certainly gives me a different view of promissory notes. I thought they secured the loan which in reality it appears they mean little.

Thank you for your response.

There is a 6 year statute of limitations for suing for breach of contract in small claims or in supreme court in NY. You can send him another demand letter, but if he is not responding to your attorney I am quite sure he will not respond to you either.

If you get the route back, I was not suggesting you run it, I was suggesting you could get it back and sell it to someone else.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The problem being I would have to run the route until I found another buyer which would create more grief!

If I did go after him, does that show up anywhere such as credit reports?

Does a lien only address property?

My lawyer has not sent him a letter as yet. He's asking for a $2000 retainer and I'm really wondering if I should just walk away from it all.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX appreciate your opinion.

Thank you for your response.

I understand, I was merely presenting some alternative to try to help you get your full value back.

If you go after him, then the judgment you obtain can be filed by you with each of the credit bureaus.

The lien addresses real property and also you can seek to levy his bank accounts or garnish any wages you can find from his employer.

You need to negotiate with your attorney on the fee and try to get him to agree to some modified fee agreement where he will take the $2000 and maybe 20%-25% of what you get back as that would still put you in better shape than going to small claims and fighting to get $5000 you will then have a hard time to collect.
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