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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102505
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I am a consultant in Florida who was subcontracted by a Crane

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I am a consultant in Florida who was subcontracted by a Crane business in Georgia to reverse Engineer an existing Crane so they could start building them. They delivered a crane for us to Model in 3D and 2/3rds of the way through the project they ran short on money and are now disputing what is left of the bills. I do not have a signed contract with them but have many emails telling us what to do and some paid invoices and 2 unpaid ones that they promised they would pay me when some of their clients start paying them... I would like to file a Notice of Action that I intend to file a Lien on them but now sure what the best way to go about it is..
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation. Can you please tell me:

1) How much do they still owe you?
2) How long was the project supposed to last?
3) Do you plan on retaining counsel?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

they still owe me around $6,000.00 outstanding and we wer going to produce shop drawings for them that would have taken about another month to complete. I have already paid my subconsultant Designer as I am the business owner of the SCorp, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I may retain counsel but I'm not sure if it's worth it for this amount. I would like to file a Notice of Action but not sure if I do it here or in Georgia or if that is the best thing to do at this point but I don't want to wait until my time limit is run out either. I think they may pay if I show I'm serious by filing the Notice of Action.


Thank you. XXXXX still need to know how long was the project supposed to last? Not since they stopped paying, but from the beginning to the end on paper - a year or more, or less?

You will see why I ask in a second.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Until they received approved shop drawings and then we were going to Design a Larger one for them. The project would have likely lasted another 6 months, the owner did speak of me possibly becoming a partner as well... which in his words "would make me a very rich man". It's hard to speculate how long the project would have lasted but best guess would be 6 months to a year for both cranes.



Okay, thank you. Apologies in advance for the momentary wait while I am typing out your answer...
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

no worries..


Okay, we will need to discuss several things in order to answer all your questions and bring them "together."

To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one.

When you state "Notice of Action," I think you mean this.

Here, one's causes of actions may be: breach of contract and/or unjust enrichment / quasi-contract.

BREACH OF CONTRACT: elements of a breach of contract claim are that: (1) a contract existed, (2) the contract was breached, and (3) damages flowed from that breach. A.R. Holland, Inc. v. Wendco Corp., 884 So. 2d 1006, 1008 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004).

However, they may attempt to claim that there WAS not contract. If so, then the response would be that there was a verbal contract and the emails and the work itself prove it. A verbal contract is simply harder to prove than a written contract which has the agreement in writing. But it is possible.

Then they can try to claim that the contract is not binding because it does not fit statute of frauds. Under statute of frauds doctrine (FS 725.01) any contract requiring a year or more to perform needs to be in writing. If so, then one can reply that the contract would require less than a year (this is why I inquired earlier).

But in case one cannot prove a contract per se, there are still two more causes of action that may be brought in the same pleading in addition and in the alternative:

UNJUST ENRICHMENT: The essential elements of a claim for unjust enrichment are: (1) a benefit conferred upon a defendant by the plaintiff, (2) the defendant's appreciation of the benefit, and (3) the defendant's acceptance and retention of the benefit under circumstances that make it inequitable for him to retain it without paying the value thereof. See Swindell v. Crowson, 712 So.2d 1162, 1163 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998).

QUASI-CONTRACT: The elements of a cause of action for a quasi contract are that: (1) the plaintiff has conferred a benefit on the defendant; (2) the defendant has knowledge of the benefit; (3) the defendant has accepted or retained the benefit conferred[;] and (4) the circumstances are such that it would be inequitable for the defendant to retain the benefit without paying fair value for it. American Safety Insurance Service v. Griggs, 959 So. 2d 322 - Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 5th Dist. 2007 (internal citations omitted).

Quasi-contract is closely related to unjust enrichment.

As for a lien - this is not possible. Only a mechanic or a contractor who works with materials can file a lien. In this case, this matter first needs to go to Court, and if you get a judgment, a lien may be filed as part of an effort to get them to pay if they do not.

An attorney is recommended. May I recommend the FL Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.)
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

my thoughts were at first to file "notice of Intent" at least to Nudge them along and might put all of this to rest instead of having to take them to court. If I do take them to court would they have to pay my legal fees if found guilty? Yes I could seek an attorney but for this amount would it be worth it? could I sue for much more than the damages of the unpaid invoice?

You mean you wanted to scare them with a demand letter. You can. However, you may want to use counsel for this, whereas here, they do not see you as much of a threat without an attorney since you filing or winning a suit without counsel is unlikely.

If I do take them to court would they have to pay my legal fees if found guilty?

Not guilty (that is criminal court), but responsible, and YES, likely (although the final decision is at the discretion of the Judge).

Yes I could seek an attorney but for this amount would it be worth it?

To send a demand letter is it normally $50 to $100. It is your decision, of course. Also, some may take the case on contingency, meaning they do not get paid unless you do. Usual set up is their take is 33% settlement, 40% win at trial, 45% at appeal; plus some office costs. Everything is negotiable.

could I sue for much more than the damages of the unpaid invoice?

Possibly. Damages are divided into:

1) ACTUAL damages of not being paid;
2) PUNITIVE damages if you can show intentional misconduct or gross negligence; and
3) Legal/attorney fees at discretion of the Judge.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

can you send a demand letter for me for $50 to $100?


I am sorry, but JustAnswer experts cannot represent customers as clients nor can we draft legal documents for them. So I am afraid I am not able to do so. I am sorry.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

ok thank you for your advice.. can I get a transcript of this emailed to me? If you know of anyone that needs a device modeled in 3d let me know.. I will give you a great rating as I think you deserve it. Best of luck to you..





It has been my pleasure.

I will definitely pass the word.

However, I cannot email the transcript to you - my system GUI does not allow me access to your email or personal information nor am I allowed to email customers. So you are limited to copy and paste, I am afraid!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

well thank you anyway... very professional.

Thank you for your kind words again!
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