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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 34996
Experience:  16 yrs. of trial experience
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I recently had furniture custom made for a home office. The

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I recently had furniture custom made for a home office. The design was approved by me, however the height of the desk was never discussed. I did see the schematic that was sent to the manufacturer and there were cabinet widths and heights. They claim that I should have known that the numbers in parenthesis (183121) meant that the cabinet height was 31" and would be almost 33" high after the stone was in place. The desk top is stone which was paid for separately although supplied by the same people. After it was installed and my computer placed I found that I had to reach up (like a little kid) to use the keyboard and tilt my head back to see the screen. Turns out the desk is 3" higher than standard height which unfortunately renders the desk useless. The vendor that I used seems to think that I am being unreasonable in holding some of the final payment until this issue is resolved. I have since called many cabinet makers and have personally measured all desks at office suppliers and every one is 30" vs. the 33". Research online and standard height is 30". Now they claim that if I don't pay full by friday they will file a Notice to Owner and Lien. I want this made right which would be costly to them. I have paid approximately $7,000+ to date and owe another $2,000+. I feel victimized as the cost is almost $10,000 for this useless product. What are my rights . . . I am beyond upset, but trying to work this out. They will not own up to their mistake and I feel I paid them not only for pretty furniture, but for their design expertise.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

So the real question is what was decided between you and the contractor? What was the agreed upon height?

Or did you agree upon a height?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The height was never discussed, so I did not agree. It certainly did not occur to me that a problem could possibly arise. Before retiring, my husband and I owned a business for 32 years and had custom made laminate furniture manufactured on two occasions and the desks were always standard height without any discussion. We had store bought furniture previously in our home and also the desks were 30" which is definitely the standard.

Do State laws govern this lien that they are threatening. Again, as a victim, what are my rights?
Thank you

Your rights are provided for under contract law. What you describe is a contract law question. As a party to the contract, you have the right to enforce the contract.

Under contract law, when two parties negotiate a contract, both are bound by the terms of the contract. But this assumes there is a "meeting of the minds" over the terms. If there is no meeting of the minds, then that can be grounds to void the contract

For example, A and B negotiate the purchase of a "bat", A thinks he is purchasing an object to strike a ball with. B is selling his pet fruit bat. In such a case, there is no contract, since the parties do not agree on what is sold.

Another example: A thinks he is buying a wooden bat, as he is allergic to aluminum. B is selling his aluminum softball slugger and advertised the item as "softball bat for sale". I this case, it is more complex, since B advertised an item that correctly described what was sold, and A had a limitation but did not specify it during the negotiations? It may well be that A is stuck with the bat.

In your case, it may be you can argue that you did not have a valid contract if you can show that what you agreed on was not what was delivered.

To do so, you would have to prove that the "standard" desk height is less than what they delivered. If you can prove that? If you can prove that there is a standard desk height, and you negotiated that and what they delivered varied from that? Then you can sue to recover the cost to fix the problem.

You will have the burden of you will need to provide evidence of what is industry standard. But if you can do so? And you can prove that what they gave you is not industry standard? THen you can void the contract based on that.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK - but what about the lien that they are threatening? How do I avoid that possibility?
You sue them to remove it.

If you can prove that they violated the terms of the contract, the court can award you damages and can order the lien removed.

You can not stop them from filing...they have the right to complain that you did not pay and they can file the lien. But you can then sue them to recover the money you have to spend to fix the mess that they made as well as to remove the lien.

As for how to sue to remove it?

If they file a lien, you can bring court action to contest the validity of the lien. This is accomplished by serving a Notice Of Contest of the lien on the contractor. You need to go to the court clerk for this form. Once filled out, the clerk will mail it to the lien claimant. The Notice of Contest will automatically discharge the lien by operation of law on 60th day if there is no action taken by the contractor and without any intervention of the court.

But if the contractor responds? Then you will need to go into court to present your case to the court.

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