Need help w/ small claims suit

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Paradise Landscapes, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. Paradise Landscapes

    Paradise Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

    Stupid me didn't have a contract.

    Doing a lawn Install. The customer rented a bobcat we both used it. (Us and Customer) They too, worked on thier property. I had 3-4 loads to haul out before putting down grass seed. I told the customer originally, 1400 just for our labor. When they said no because i was 10 mins late and they wanted to work on property, We would then work out our labor. Never happen. Labor day weekend. We were there for 2 days, taking Monday off. cust. Called Tues. morning and said they don't want us back due to damage to driveway,Lack of labor, Family to do work. Give my address Like she asked. hanged up. I waited 1 week before sending a bill for 452.00. 2wks later, I recieve a sepeona in the mail for 475. I called My ins. agent, (Erie ins.)
    He went out to scout for damage. He found none, She came out rudely, would be open to take pics and statement. Customer kicked him off property.

    When I got court papers, it reads: Driveway Damage, lack of work, Family to do work. Not once did I run the bobcat on the driveway.

    What would you fellow pros say? Ask me questions too! :help: :help: :help:
  2. Alan's Lawn Care~Co-Owner

    Alan's Lawn Care~Co-Owner LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    Us as in you and how many?? I don't know the whole situation, but I wonder if this is going to be a he said/she said kinda situation?!? Is there any way you can physically prove you didn't run this on her driveway? Yes you should of had a contract!! Not my business, but if we are going to be late we call ahead and let the customer know, so they can plan accordingly!!
  3. Paradise Landscapes

    Paradise Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

    No, not really a he said/she said. Theres' appearently no damage because my ins. adjuster looked at it and got back to me. it's a situation where as shes' trying to get out from payaing it. She sent me the court papers and putted family did work and lack of labor. If any lack of labor, It's becuase she told us not to come back.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I'm not sure I completely understand the whole situation from what you wrote. You're saying she is suing you for $475 for damages to the driveway? She would need some proof, like an estimate from a company to do repairs. She can't just make up some dollar figure.

    Sue her for non-payment. Even with no contract, did you at least have a work order or route sheet that you filled out, that can be presented as proof that you worked at her property?
  5. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 530

    Small Claims court is very fair.......Was this a 1 shot deal or a regular customer?.........Never, Never,Ever,do a 1-shot deal with out anything in writeing!!!!!!! and if its a regular customer bring their yrly service agreement........Hope you have some thing in writeing to show? a work order, a service bullitin, something that the attending employees sign & leave at the property?.....Hope your "Bill" arrived before there counter claim was filed?....its true they have to show proof that damages were done?,[ hope your insurance guy took pictures?] least they would be an indication everything was fine when they were taken?.....give you 1/2 a leg to stand on....bring your certificate of insurance and any lic.'s that you need in that area?[ to operate]......... :)....PS considering they are filein for damages, it indicates some agreement was had between you and the sueing party.
  6. steve122

    steve122 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 208

    This happened last year Labor Day? They waited long enough (and you did too) to loose your right to file a lien against property. Sounds to me like they had no intention of paying from the beginning. hopefully your insurance company is handling this in court for you.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I *NEVER* do black-and-white contracts (all of me is verbal):
    - We operate under one law and this is the law of God. WHEN 2 ppls make a VERBAL agreement, this agreement is made under GOD even if you do not swear and even if nothing is said to the effect, God sees and hears everything.

    Company RULE: NEVER use customer-supplied equipment (rented or whatever). NO, not even a rake or a broom - it's either YOUR equipment or NO deal). Please trust me on this, this rule will save you from this probs, but that is next:

    You say:
    When I got court papers, it reads: Driveway Damage, lack of work, Family to do work.

    Ok even if what I say next is wrong, please agree ok?
    - You did no work (lack of work) AND they had to do it. Ok so what?
    They pay you NO money for NO work so this is their problem, not yours.
    Whatever you do, whatever happens, the original agreement is null and void: You do no work, they pay you no money: BLAM, it is over, it is finished!
    The End.

    Far as the damages to driveway:
    - You need pictures.
    ... Get a car in which they have NOT seen you and yes a FULL gas tank.
    Now drive past their house a few times at different times of day and WHEN they are not at home, stop + get out + snap all the digital pics you can get: Driveway (ALL of it, and in sections).
    Everybody leaves the house, sooner or later they will not be at home and then snap picture after picture for a good 5-10 or 15 minutes (bring spare batteries).
    YOU need to do that and be SURE there really IS no damage.
    If there is, please post 1-2 pics or so.

    ^^^^^ I did that with a customer I almost have a real problem with, and the same EVENING they called and were very nice and everything is ok.

    One more thing:
    Should they show up while you're there, leave in a controlled manner - don't run, don't speed, don't spin tires or do anything stupid but do so immediately: Get in your car, close and lock all doors, start motor, put in gear and leave very nicely. Do not talk to them, if they yell or try to stop you, ignore them and keep going (do not stop) because you need to leave now.

    If they call police, no problem: Explain to police you receive court papers concerning damages to driveway and you needed pictures.
    If the police say the people do not want you there or whatever, say ok.
    (hopefully you get all the pics you need: They warned your ins.agent, not you.)

    Good luck.
  8. roushjh

    roushjh LawnSite Member
    from KS
    Posts: 85

    I went through something similar in KS last year with a renter that sued us for their deposit back, after breaking a lease. In KS you can counter-sue, without paying court cost (about $35) for your costs of labor, which she never paid. You may be able to recover your labor costs, without filing and wasting more of your time in court.
  9. C&KLawnCare

    C&KLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 246

    - You did no work (lack of work) AND they had to do it. Ok so what?
    They pay you NO money for NO work so this is their problem, not yours.

    Damn must be nice to have that ok *(*&)&*( me over a barrel sure ill work for free

    You are a bigger idiot than all of us here at LS thought you were , Verbal yea that hold's about as much water as a bucket with no bottom.

    What a friggen Idiot , Hates buisness card's , Never does contracts, will not provide company name so some can see his supposed yellow page ad

  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    When your business is listed in the Yellow Pages and you have a Web site listed on Yahoo, I'll be glad to take lessons from you.

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