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Richard, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 55452
Experience:  32 years of experience practicing law and a businessman.
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I recently worked real estate agent, I am a landscaper.

Customer Question

I recently worked for a real estate agent, I am a landscaper. He had asked me to clean up a property and pull out plants and put in mulch. I have text messages agreeing the price and the exactly "mulch". Two days after the job was completed the real estate agent said he wanted cedar chips, not mulch and said the work was horrible (to me defense it was not even close to horrible) then refused to pay. I have everything documented via text, including that everything looked great and he was going to send a check right after I left and he had inspected. After several insults and threats to ruin my reputation in town, he agreed to pay and then again never paid. He claims to specialize in contract law and says he will ruin me. What are the chances my case will stand up in small claims court?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Richard replied 2 years ago.
Hi! My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you!
You want to call his bluff. He has no chance of winning against you and he's simply trying to intimidate you. Even if you don't have a written contract, you do have all your texts that evidence a verbal contract. The lack of a written contract can be overcome by the concepts of promissory estoppel, detrimental reliance, and unjust enrichment. This situation arises when Person A relied upon the verbal agreement, Person A performed based on such reliance, and because Person B defaulted, such reliance is now to Person A's detriment. Where there is i) partial performance by Person A based upon the mutual promises, ii) Person A relied upon such promises to perform, iii) Person B's failure to perform would be to Person A's detriment, and iv) result in Person B being unjustly enriched, Person A can overcome the legal requirement that the agreement be in writing. Your facts satisfy all the foregoing elements. If he doesn't pay you, file suit against him. Filing the suit will give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if he doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on him for a debtor examination. That forces him to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about his assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property he owns to satisfy the judgment. In my experience, simply filing the suit is typically all you need to do to resolve this outside of court because most of the time, once served with a summons one is being sued, he will want to settle out of court to avoid the judgment being on his permanent record and the additional costs of a suit he's not going to win.
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