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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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I red a guy to paint my home office . He quoted me $280 job.

Customer Question

I hired a guy to paint my home office for me. He quoted me $280 for the job. I sent him to Home Depot to get the paint and supplies and gave him $200 in cash. When he returned, he gave me $50 and some change back but no receipt. He then e-mailed me the receipt. The total for supplies was $97. I asked him what happened to the rest of the money and he said he had to put gas in his truck because he didn't have his debit card with him.
He then painted for about 5 hours. He left once, saying he had to get a strainer out of his truck. He then texted me saying he had to go to Sherwin Williams to get a strainer. He was gone for more than 90 minutes. Sherwin Williams is 15 minutes from my condo. There were some spots on the wall that needed to be patched and sanded and one hole where a cable outlet had been that needed to be patched. He tried repairing that by filling it full of spackling compound which just ended up running out of the hole and down the wall. He painted over other patches without letting them dry.
He told me up front he could do the entire job in a day. During the process I decided I wanted to remove the old base trim and replace it. We negotiated that I would pay him $500 total for the job. None of this was in writing unfortunately. At the end of the day on Friday I asked when he would want to finish the job and gave him $300. I had a dog show on Saturday so we couldn't do it then. I told him either Sunday or during the week after work. He said that he had another job on Monday so he'd finish it on Sunday. He showed up almost two hours late. At around 4 pm I took my dogs out for a walk and while out, he texted me saying he had to leave to go do a bid on another job and he could come back and finish after. The bid was several miles away and he wouldn't have made it back before 8 so I told him that was unacceptable and he should have told me earlier in the day that he would have to leave.
There's more, but I've already rambled on. In looking at his paint job, it was horrible. There were drips, and areas that were missed. As stated previously he didn't do the patch work correctly. I texted him, told him that he was fired and he needed to refund at least $200 of my money. He said he'd give back the entire $300. He kept changing his mind and finally I agreed to settle with him for $150 which had to be mailed by last Friday. I haven't received anything. I sent him an e-mail today telling him that the settlement offer was now null and void and I would be suing him for $300 + $50 for the gas he put in his truck without asking me. Can I sue him for this amount?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sorry to learn of this situation.

Yes, you can sue the contractor for breach of contract (an oral contract is still enforceable).

Your measure of damages is going to be the cost of repair by another contractor - whatever they would charge in time and supplies to come in and repair or complete whatever work this individual attempted to do the first time.

In addition to this, you are entitled to the money that he stole from you (the civil term is "conversion") for his fuel.

You can use small claims for this, where no attorney is required and the process is fairly informal.