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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 117375
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I was contacted by an HVAC contractor from Aug 2009, who abandoned

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I was contacted by an HVAC contractor from Aug 2009, who abandoned the job after two weeks. They did install 2 HVAC cores but none of the periphery necessary to get it finished. The contract never listed a completion date, and he demanded 50% down because I asked that the job be completed within an 8 week window. I had hired a professional contractor between jobs to help and teach me how to do the renovation work on my duplex apartment that I was renovating for myself to move to. (I lived in a 3 unit, and was developing a portfolio by buying-renovating while living there -> moving to the next.).
I sent a letter and called the contractor just after 6 weeks of him missing, and sent him a letter. (unfortunately, unregistered, he was a known local contractor). I just heard from him in Feb 18,2012, asking for the rest of his money. He never finished the job. At the Magistrate hearing, he didn't have the right information, the right job, the right property, and was materially mis-representing himself that he installed things that he didn't. I'm going to appeal, and now that I know how this works, I'm going to get the contractor that did the work to do an affidavit saying what we installed. I was paying the contractor (who knew HVAC), hourly, so I just added the extra items that the contractor abandoned and was just lucky to be able to get the systems working and operational. Obviously, Act 132 is involved, and I can't believe I've been found guilty by the Magistrate (in his home town btw). The plaintiffs reason for waiting 3 yrs. and bringing it up now, is that he sold the business because it wasn't doing well, and needs to clean up the accounts before the due diligence period is over.
What is the specific question we can assist you with tonight?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Do the Magistrates take into account that the contract was not a correct conforming Act 132 contract in Aug 2009, and that given that the contractor abandoned the job, and that I was able to remedy the situation myself, how is it that any judge would award the contractor anything? What are my options: does he have a case? What specific things on the contract and evidence should I give to any lawyer I retain for this action?
It was up to you to raise that issue in your case and it was up to you as defendant to raise all of these issues in defense to the claim. Legally, once he alleges you owe the money, as a defendant you have the right to demand proof of the debt. This includes demanding the proper contract, an itemized statement showing the work done and putting on your own witness to contradict and dispute his claims that any such work was done.

What many people do not grasp in representing themselves in court is that it is based on them presenting the evidence to the court properly, since the court is not bound to dig up the evidence on their own. Thus, if he was presenting improper evidence, it was for you to object and present evidence to the contrary to the court and if you do not do so, then the court has no choice but to just consider what he presented.

You need to bring your contract copy to the attorney, proof of what you paid him, a report from the other contractor you used to assist in fixing what he did not do, itemized bills for all of the work you performed and anything else you have related to the job he failed to perform so that the attorney can introduce all of this in the court to prove his claim invalid.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I corrected the statements and showed the court. After 3 yrs, unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the contract anymore. The copy he presented was not given to me. No evidence that was provided was given to me actually. Also, during the initial contractor call in Feb. 2012, I forbid him from entering my property, and warned that it would be considered trespassing if he disturbed my tenants. After our call, he went to my duplex project and took pictures through windows and walked around the building, and told the judge. I understand I probably should have presented more information, but it was so contradicting that I thought the judge would see right through it. I pointed out that his facts were wrong, and said so. Prima facially it was simply a paper hunt. Anyways, thank you. To summarize I should:
1) Collect and Present all paperwork I have demonstrating that he abandoned the project.
2) Get affidavits that the project was abandoned and finished by us.
3) As the contractor to create a list of items and materials that were used to correct the issue, and have him provide the estimate he gave verbally for his retail rate install vs. the hourly rate I was charging him.
4) Since this is at the Magistrate level, what are his options to collect, since he obviously is just doing this to clear the books for the new owners of the company he sold the company to?
He has to produce that contract which you can dispute. But, yes, your summary is correct. His options to collect would be to ask for a lien on your property or seek to garnish your wages or rents from the property. You need to file your appeal and if you use an attorney, many times he will not respond because he is looking to settle this quickly and once he realizes it cannot be settled quickly and if he is a business to go to court he will have to now have an attorney because he cannot represent the business will likely get you a default judgment if you appeal.