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Roger, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 31687
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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I live in Illinois and I am rebuilding a houseboat. I contacted

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I live in Illinois and I am rebuilding a houseboat. I contacted a company in California to build the living quarters and upper deck. The hull is with me in Illinois. The agreement was that he would build the structure in California. It would be made so it could be dismantled and then he would ship the pieces to Illinois and assemble the completed build out on the hull here. He emailed me a contract with the costs itemized and a payment schedule. He told me it would take 6-8 weeks to build once he received the first payment. That was January 2012. I sent the first payment in April 2012. The last year has been a series of "I'll start it next week" followed by dodged calls and emails. When I finally track him down I get a list of apologies and excuses and we begin again with "I'll start it next week". I made all my payments as agreed. However I have not received a single sign that he has even started the build and he already has 80-90% of the funds required. Last fall he got a "come to Jesus" phone call from my partner. He followed that call with a call to me. He explained the fiberglass sides for the build had been destroyed in an accident, the insurance would not cover them, and he was cash strapped. He had some money to pay for the replacement fiberglass sides but not all. He gave his word he would complete the build. He assured me he had all the materials he needed except the fiberglass. Since building a boat during an Illinois winter did not appeal to either party, I agreed to a spring 2013 delivery date but warned him I would not tolerate anymore delays.
Last month he ask if I could send the money to buy the fiberglass. He insisted it was the only thing holding up the project. I told him the only way I would send the money was if I sent it directly to the manufacturer and I had all the paperwork. I asked if I could have the side delivered here and he could finish the assembly here. He said that was not possible. The supports needed to be adhered to the fiberglass sides before transporting them to Illinois.
He told me the money is gone and he would not refund the money I paid him. The contract he sent me does not cover any situation except building and completion. Under California law what are my options?
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a litigation attorney. Thanks for your question, but I certainly am sorry for your trouble with this - what a mess!

You have the right to sue this guy for breach of contract and conversion and seek a total refund for the money that you paid over to him. You can also ask for interest on the money.

Hopefully you have an executed contract and proof of all payments to this guy - plus all communication to prove his misrepresentations and failure to fulfill the term of the contract.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I do have all my wire information, but I am not sure about the type of contract. I went to tour his facility and he came to Illinois with a co-worker to measure the hull. He printed an estimate while I was there and he emailed a contract to me about a few days later. What is a brief description of what an executed contract should include. On a related note, I paid over $5000 for slip rent last year in expectation of delivery. Could it be included in my suit? Also, could I ask for the cost associated with suing him (i.e. attorney's fees, travel to/from California for the tour and/or the lawsuit)?

In order to have a contract, all you need is an offer, an acceptance of that offer and consideration (money paid over ). If you have that, you have a valid contract. Even if you didn't have a written contract, you would have an oral one - who h is enforceable.

Ideally, you'd like for the contract to have a completion date so you could claim that the delivery dare has been breached. It's not completely damaging if you don't, but it would help if you do. For instance, if you can prove a completion date, you would likely have a claim for the slip fees, but if you don't that amount is not likely recoverable.

You can generally seek your attorneys fees as part of your claim, but it will likely cost you at least $3000-$5000 to sue and see it through.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What about the $5000 for the slip I rented last summer in preparation for the boat and the travel fees? Can they be included in the suit?

In regard to the slip fees, like I said above, IF you can prove a completion date under the contract, you would have a claim for the $5000 slip fees, but if you don't have a completion date written in the contract, then it is not likely that you could recover this money. This is so because there was no written guarantee/written promise to deliver at that point in time.

Also, your travel fees aren't likely recoverable. Most courts do not allow for this. The good news is that if you hire an attorney, you probably won't have to make but 1 trip out there for this.

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