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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 7406
Experience:  Attorney 40 plus years private practice. Real Estate, Wills, Trusts, Injury claims. Still active.
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Wisconsin contractor won't finish job; says he believes he

Customer Question

Wisconsin contractor won't finish job; says he believes he won't get paid although he has been paid within 1-2 days on 4 invoices thus far. Had issues with his last invoice, he corrected it and sent another one out indicating the amount he was owed, and scheduled a date to finish. I agreed to pay it in full as soon as he finished the work. I would have someone there to check on the finished work that day. If it was acceptable, I would sign and email his invoice to the accountant that day, and she would issue a check. Usually he could pick it up the same day, if it was submitted in time. He demanded a pre-dated check to be left with another contractor on the job. One issue is I cant have an accountant pre-date a check, and on at least 6 times, he has failed to show up when he indicated he would, and did not call. I even offered to pay in full on the carpet since that was completed. Just send me an invoice for the carpet, and it would be paid immediately. What should my actions be?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  insearchoftheanswer replied 1 year ago.

Hi! My name is Richard & I will be helping you today! It will take me a few minutes to type a response to your question. Thanks for your patience!

Expert:  insearchoftheanswer replied 1 year ago.

First, don't worry about the threat of any lien. If the contractor were to place a lien, he would not be able to do anything with it unless he filed a suit and prevailed in that suit. Given your facts, he would not prevail, and the court would simply order the lien released. And, if the contractor doesn't timely pursue the suit, the lien will lapse automatically. It's the contractor who is in default here and you are the one with the recourse. What you want to do is raise the stakes on him. First, get an estimate from another contractor of the cost to properly complete the job. Then, send your existing contractor a certified, return receipt requested letter detailing the history, terminating the contract due to his default, and demand that he pay you an amount of money so that when the other contractor completes the job, you have paid in total no more than you would have paid him had he completed the job competently. Inform him that if he does not comply with your demand within a short specified period of time, you will have no choice but to file a suit against him for your damages. BUT, be sure to specifically mention that you will be filing this claim not only as a breach of contract case, but also as gross negligence, fraud, and deceptive trade practice causes of action, which will entitle you not only to your damages, but also an additional amount equal to multiple times your actual damages as punitive damages. That should provide plenty of incentive to comply with your demands; but, if it does not, file your suit. Even if you have to file the suit, that's likely all you will need do. In my experience, he will settle this without a hearing rather than risk punitive damages and the judgments being on his record.

Thank you so much for allowing me to help you with your questions. I have done my best to provide information which fully addresses your question. If you have any follow up questions, please ask! If I have fully answered your question(s) to your satisfaction, I would appreciate you rating my service as OK, Good or Excellent (hopefully Good or Excellent). Otherwise, I receive no credit for assisting you today. I thank you in advance for taking the time to provide me a positive rating!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is this according to Wisconsin law? I know they have a right to remedy. I need the answers to be correct for wisconsin law.There are time limits etc that I have to follow. Must leave now,however I will return in approximately two hours.1300 Ca. time.
Expert:  insearchoftheanswer replied 1 year ago.

Yes...I noted you were in Wisconsin and so gave you information applicable to Wisconsin. His right to remedy is lost when he continues to refuse to do so. :)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks again,but I cant find where I found it before,but there was a specified amount of time required to be given to the contractor,this I need to know.
Expert:  insearchoftheanswer replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for responding. It seems to me that you'll be more comfortable with an expert based in Wisconsin. Given this, I am going to opt out so another expert can timely provide you the information you seek. Please do not respond to this post as it will only slow the process of such an expert picking up your question. Take care.

Expert:  Irwin Law replied 1 year ago.

Hello another expert here, and I will be happy to assist with your question. You have established a clear course of payment for services rendered with this contractor, which he has now decided to unilaterally alter. You are under no obligation whatsoever to make arrangements for payment prior to the services being rendered. The method that you describe is quite reasonable, His refusal to finish the job under the same terms is unreasonable. The most you owe this contractor for at this point is for the work that has been completed, whatever that is. If he refuses to invoice you a specific amount for that work, then you are under no obligation to pay for it until he does. I am reasonably certain that there are no mystical or hidden features of Wisconsin law that turns common-law of contracts on its head, and requires payment in advance of the services.

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