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View Full Version : Another Small Claims victory


TURFLORD
01-10-2007, 06:10 AM
Every year there's at least one smart azz that needs to be taught a lesson, this year was no different. Please only respond if you know Small Claims. Don't jack my thread discussing what the best way to collect should be. It was only $160 this time, cost $21 to file and the biggie is it was at a county court I'd never been to before. The defendant didn't show. I got cheated out of half the fun.:mad: I love knowing that I caused them a fair amount of inconvenience by making them show up in court.:hammerhead: On a side note. I always ignored jobs outside my county because I was unfamiliar with the adjoining county, not knowing where the courthouse was, their prcedures, parking, etc. Now that I finally had my learning experience and realized it was not all that bad, I think I'll expand my territory a bit.

Roger
01-10-2007, 06:24 AM
What was the victory? Getting a favorable ruling? Did you get paid?

TURFLORD
01-10-2007, 06:45 AM
What was the victory? Getting a favorable ruling? Did you get paid?
Yes I got a favorable ruling. When the Defendant doesn't show up it's called a default. I win automatically. No mediator trying to get me to agree to half. I get my full demand,finance charge, filing fee, and all. I now have to file for a judgement(already done) which is a technicality. The court will place a lein on a bank account, adding 40%+mileage for their effort, and send me a check. The defendant receives a black mark on their credit history that will never go away.:)

dlm17
01-10-2007, 07:19 AM
Maybe Im Just A Little Naive But Do You Really Need To Know Where The Court House Is Before Expanding Sounds A Little Negative To Me I Thought Most Of Us Would Prefer Not To Need To Know That, But That Could Just Be Me

mowerman90
01-10-2007, 07:37 AM
Good for you Turflord!!! It's not the amount, it's the principal. Go Get'm

AL Inc
01-10-2007, 07:41 AM
Turflord, good to hear the system worked. I also had a good experience with small claims, but the total time from where you are now to actually getting my money was about a year. I was happy, and a $700 bill cost the former client $1K. Should have just paid the bill in the first place, stupid.
Glad you won your case, keep us posted.

MarcSmith
01-10-2007, 07:47 AM
The first court case is always the hardest, you want to make sure you dot the I and cross the T....I had to go several times. on a few occasions just filing and having Jonny Law serve the papers was enough to get payment.

Good score. and Taking them to small claims, although it sound harsh, its the best way to do it and best of all its the legal way....

JJLandscapes
01-10-2007, 08:45 AM
Maybe Im Just A Little Naive But Do You Really Need To Know Where The Court House Is Before Expanding Sounds A Little Negative To Me I Thought Most Of Us Would Prefer Not To Need To Know That, But That Could Just Be Me


not expanding to a town because you dont know wheere the court house is sounds pretty stupid to me also...

expand to wherever and if you run into a problem you have the internet apparently so you can find any place in the world

congrats on the winning though dont let stupid **** stop you from expanding though

TURFLORD
01-10-2007, 09:17 AM
I wouldn't go so far as to say it's stupid. I would say caution, or maybe just spoiled. I'm small time these days. I mostly work by myself. I grossed $93k last year and didn't have to travel more than 10 miles in any direction to do it. This strategy allows me certain freedoms to chose my customers more selectively. I'm sure the guys with 3-4 crews know what I'm talking about. Part of doing business, whether we like it or not, is knowing how to collect at times. For some reason I thought it was more invovled to do SC in the neighboring county. In my county,I've done it so many times, it's old hat by now. Complacency begets laziness I guess.

NCL
01-10-2007, 10:18 AM
Turflord, how do you go about filing the judgement? I had the same situation last yr. no show I won, no I have to file a judgement?Thanks

lawnpro724
01-10-2007, 11:11 AM
I have been to small claims several times over the years and just because you won doesn't mean your going to get any money. I found another way that works much better and guarantees payment. I just go to my lawyer and put a contractors lean on their house that way if they dont pay in a pre determined time frame the court will sell their house to pay me. I always get my money that way. It amazing how people can come up with money when their home depends on it.

MarcSmith
01-10-2007, 11:20 AM
The nice thien about a lein is that its good for a long time, draws interest, and they cannot refiance, retitle, or sell their house with out clearing the lein...

LwnmwrMan22
01-10-2007, 11:36 AM
The nice thien about a lein is that its good for a long time, draws interest, and they cannot refiance, retitle, or sell their house with out clearing the lein...

The biggest drawback is, if they just refinanced for lower rates for 30 years, before the judgement, they COULD sit on that lein for 30 years.

A buddy of mine did that for $4,000 worth of sewer work, because he knew the people are trying to sell the property.

Well, he put the extra lien on the property, and the people promptly pulled the property off of the market.

Now he's still owed the money, and they're not moving.

MarcSmith
01-10-2007, 11:42 AM
30 years is a long time, but think of the interest you'd be getting.

I agree that getting the lien does not guarantee payment either, but its does secure you a legal spot in line. While you attempt to collect.

Team-Green L&L
01-10-2007, 11:47 AM
Turflord, how do you go about filing the judgement? I had the same situation last yr. no show I won, no I have to file a judgement?Thanks

You should have a judgment entry from the courts. That can be faxed to the credit bureaus to attach as an outstanding debt.

HOOLIE
01-10-2007, 01:03 PM
I took maybe around 30 cases to Small Claims over the years for my old boss...what I always found odd was almost nobody bothered to show up for court, BUT, nearly all of them paid within a week or so of the judgement. A few actually grabbed me outside the courtroom before we went in and handed me a check and left, but mostly they were no-shows.

I settled thru mediation with maybe 4-5 of them. One guy actually fought us in court (he lost) and there was only one other that we actually had to take a step further by garnishing her bank account (twice it took to get all the money)

I lien could be very effective in my area...a lot of people come and go and don't live in one house for very long. I suppose it would depend on the area you live in.

Yeah I filed in two different counties we serviced...very different atmospheres from each other...one was very laid-back while the other actually felt like court.

Envy Lawn Service
01-10-2007, 01:30 PM
Everyone should take note that it is hard to really discuss legal collections with such a widespread audience. The reason being is LEGALITIES CAN VARY SO MUCH from place to place.

Some places it is very easy to win your case, and actually collect the MONEY.
Some places do not require so much documentation and the looser is REQUIRED to PAY.

Other places it's much harder to prove your case, and even if you do win you may never see a dime.

Some places you can only file in small claims or civil court.
Other places you can file CRIMINAL charges against them...

So everyone should remember this variance before typing a bunch of stuff.

cutbetterthanyou
01-10-2007, 01:47 PM
this may be a dumb question but can you do any of this if they didn't sign a contract only a verbal agreement

lawnpro724
01-10-2007, 01:57 PM
The biggest drawback is, if they just refinanced for lower rates for 30 years, before the judgement, they COULD sit on that lein for 30 years.

A buddy of mine did that for $4,000 worth of sewer work, because he knew the people are trying to sell the property.

Well, he put the extra lien on the property, and the people promptly pulled the property off of the market.

Now he's still owed the money, and they're not moving.

That may be the case if you just attach a lien to the property and do nothing else. I attach a lien to thier property and then go to court if its not paid in a very short manner. The judge is the one who will set a time for payment to be made in full by a certain date and if not an order goes through for sale of property. I've never had to go that far though, but I still got paid what they owed me plus attorney's fees, court costs, and interest.

HOOLIE
01-10-2007, 02:00 PM
this may be a dumb question but can you do any of this if they didn't sign a contract only a verbal agreement

At least in Virginia you can...there were one or two where we had no contract, plus I saw other contractors win without a contract. Pretty much so long as the defendant admits there was a business relationship you're good.

cutbetterthanyou
01-10-2007, 02:07 PM
thanks i appreciate it i think i am going to have to take royal farms to court they paid the first month they no more i had heard big companies some times only pay 3 months at a time so i let them go now they owe over 500

MarcSmith
01-10-2007, 02:11 PM
this may be a dumb question but can you do any of this if they didn't sign a contract only a verbal agreement

if you have a verbal agreement it becomes a he said-she said kinda of thing. but when you are cutting grass and can show stuff like paid invoices and past work history, its usually a slam dunk in your favor.

Envy you are correct, but many LCO's will write off that 100 bucks to a lesson learned, and if we can show that court is not as intimidating and difficult as you think, maybe as an industry we'll write off less bad debt, and maybe prevent the next LCO from getting screwed by some dead beat.

The nice thing about the internet is that you can just about find out what you need to do by going to the county website.

Small Claims/Civil court is generally pretty easy....

TURFLORD
01-10-2007, 03:05 PM
Turflord, how do you go about filing the judgement? I had the same situation last yr. no show I won, no I have to file a judgement?ThanksYou should immediately go to the court and see if you can still get one!!!! Once you get a default, it's as easy as filling out some more forms, at least it it in NJ. In my county, I have to go to the SC office and simply request the forms. Yesterday, they were handed out by the clerk at the end of the session right in the courtroom, very convenient.

Lazer_Z
01-10-2007, 04:13 PM
Turflord, congrats on winning the case. I have yet to have to go the legal route to get my payment but, as my business grows I'm sure I'll see my fare share of deadbeats & court rooms.

Rob

LwnmwrMan22
01-10-2007, 04:44 PM
Thanks for reminding me....

I've got a buddy that still owes me $1700 for a truck that he bought from me in '01.

Said $7500 was good, so far paid $5800, haven't seen any money now for about 1.5 years.

Tomorrow I'll be driving down to his county and filing papers.

Runner
01-10-2007, 06:16 PM
I found another way that works much better and guarantees payment. I just go to my lawyer and put a contractors lean on their house that way if they dont pay in a pre determined time frame the court will sell their house to pay me. I always get my money that way.

LOL! I would love to see one case - where the court evicted someone (let alone a family) to sell a house to pay a lawn guy! :dizzy: All a lien does is give you claim, so it acts as a collateral asset. I HAVE seen other property seized, - such as vehicles, but NEVER a house.

dlm17
01-11-2007, 07:33 AM
This May Be A Stupid Question But Just How Many Lawyers Do We Have Cutting Grass Now, Seems To Be Quite A Few!

MarcSmith
01-11-2007, 07:48 AM
It's not about being a lawyer at all, its about smart business and getting paid for the work you did...rather than being a pushover.....

Liquidfast
01-11-2007, 10:44 AM
Yes I got a favorable ruling. When the Defendant doesn't show up it's called a default. I win automatically. No mediator trying to get me to agree to half. I get my full demand,finance charge, filing fee, and all. I now have to file for a judgement(already done) which is a technicality. The court will place a lein on a bank account, adding 40%+mileage for their effort, and send me a check. The defendant receives a black mark on their credit history that will never go away.:)

That is not entirely true......I worked for the collections department with SunTrust bank in Florida. It is better to place a lien on the house to collect your money than to take them to court for a judgement however, if they are RENTERS, you are SOL. As far as a black mark on their report forever....not true. The FCRA (it's been a while...might be the FDCRA) anyway, it varies from state to state as to the duration of time it will stay on their report.

There are clever ways to REMOVE these "bad marks" on a credit report but a lien must be paid if they move, refi etc......


Not to hijack but when I experienced issues with non payers etc...I simply switched to receiving payments upfront....I get paid on the first for the upcoming months work...all post-dated cheques.

Team-Green L&L
01-11-2007, 01:37 PM
this may be a dumb question but can you do any of this if they didn't sign a contract only a verbal agreement

A contract does not need to be written, but must be proven through elements:

Mutual Assent: This means both parties agree to exchange something
A. Both parties must benefit in this area

Consideration: This is the estimate (or compensation requirements) that allows the other party to consider the proposal.
A. This can be verbal, but must be proven by a
preponderance of evidence.

Legal Capacity: This means that both parties are legally capable of binding to a contractual term.

Legal Permissable Objective: This means that both parties are agreeing to terms that do not conflict with law. That the contractor is doing something within the law, and that all permits and such are obtained as prescribed by law.

It is not a criminal case, so you only need to prove these things "probably did take place" to obtain a judgment.

Ed Ryder
01-11-2007, 09:46 PM
The defendant receives a black mark on their credit history that will never go away.:)

Wrong. On credit reports it will disappear after 7 years. Although the court record will probably always exist.

Mean Green Lawns
01-11-2007, 11:41 PM
I won A case myself in July but for a landscaping job the guy still owed me 3500 for 3 months ago and I am still waiting on the court collector to get me my loot.

TURFLORD
01-12-2007, 08:40 AM
Wrong. On credit reports it will disappear after 7 years. Although the court record will probably always exist.Don't get all scratchy! I'll concede the point on black marks never going away. I dug through some old credit checks on tenant applications and the reports only go back 7 years.