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Getting screwed

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by lawnandorderny, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. lawnandorderny

    lawnandorderny LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    In february I was awarded a 3 year bid for service via e mail and was told they were drawing up the contract. I since have purchased additional equipment and other expenses in prep for starting. After several attempts via e mail to their ops manager, without response, I contacted the Mall manager. Two days later the ops manager e mailed me saying they decided to go with a local company, thanks. Question is do I have any legal argument. Also I had numerous e maills since where he stated that it was his minor oversight. He also said he was going to try and get out of it with the other company. Where do I stand? Even if made good on the contract I have concerns about working with them. Can I recoupe my losses? Thanks

    SNAPPER MAN LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    You never signed a contract so you have no legal grounds. Also no one held a gun to your head and made you buy the equipment. In my opinion you put the cart before the horse.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. lawnandorderny

    lawnandorderny LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    I understand but when I looked into I was told that because there was an offer, and acceptance and and acknowledgment of such that it was legally binding
  4. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    Maybe return the equipment? You most definitely jumped the gun. If anything, you should have waited to spend any money on a account you didn't have locked in. It would have been better to fall behind on equipment AFTER you got the account. Then you could rightfully buy what you needed without worry. Now you're stuck with equipment and not enough work. I bet you wouldn't care at all that you didn't get the account if you hadn't jumped the gun and blew a wad on new equipment.
  5. Aaronnc

    Aaronnc LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 7B
    Messages: 354

    Yes, you do have legal grounds. In all 50 states depending on the circumstance (services rendered, employment, leases, etc....), oral contracts are just as binding as written ones. With the exception of a real estate purchase. They get to be unique.

    Now, that being said, just because you have a case, does not mean you will win it, and if you do, once legal fees, time off from work, the hassle of it all, will win you nothing but pennies on the dollar, and a whole bunch of headaches. And even if you do win, that doesn't mean they will stay pay up, and can appeal it etc........ so back to court..etc......

    So in other words, your gonna have to have an air tight case, and a whole lotta time and patience and financially stable for the missed days at work.

    If it was a couple of grand, I'd say buy a case of your favorite adult beverage, get sloppy drunk, and write it off with a bunch of laughs and/or tears. If it was $10 grand plus, then I'd talk to an attorney.

    But yes, if there was an offer and an acceptance, then it is legally binding.

    Best case scenario, they own up to it, settle out of court with a cashiers check.
    Worst case scenario, they get ugly, question your character/credibility and competency, knock on your neighbors and customers doors, and drag it out for 6-12 months. Then on top of that, if you win, never pay. Your decision.

    Your attorney will see if this falls under a statue of frauds law and file promissory estoppel motions and the like.

    Good Luck.
  6. lawnandorderny

    lawnandorderny LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    Thanks for the comments. The contract was for $240,000 over three years. I also have e-mails from him stating it was his mistake and was going to try and get out of it with the other contractor. Problem is he wants me to resubmit all of the paperwork, ins, performance bond and then we can negotiate a contract that may or may not lead to the contract. I have already done all of this including the negotiation, thats how we got to this point, so I think he knows he screwed up, but is trying to make my life hell. So that leads me to what he would make the next three years.

    Lets reverse this and say a week before I was supposed to start, they contacted me to go over the contract and sign it and I said I changed my mind and that I didnt want it anymore, tell me they wouldnt come after me for the time and money preparing the contract, the fact that the season is starting and they do not have a contractor and that they are going to have to rebid it. I think they would sue me
  7. Aaronnc

    Aaronnc LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 7B
    Messages: 354

    Your definitely going to have to talk to an attorney.

    Back in my pre-law college days, if I remember correctly, an oral agreement/contract can only be legally binding for up to 12 months. So out of the $240k I believe you can only go after $80k plus expenses. Anything over 12 months falls under the statue of frauds and is not enforceable.

    I'll dust off some law books, and look it up for you, but take with a grain of salt, because they are circa 1990-1994 and laws have/can changed by now.

    But yeah, talking about this kind of coin, it can and will probably get ugly. Because even if they do award you the contract, I'm sure the other contractor will want his money too.

    And even though this manager or whoever this guy is seems up front and honest albeit absent minded, once the lawyers get involved, the game will change QUICK.

    The very best of luck to you, and I mean it. You'll need it.
  8. lawnandorderny

    lawnandorderny LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    Thanks for the feedback. Im meeting with my attorney this afternoon. Ill keep everyone posted. Thanks again
  9. Ridin' Green

    Ridin' Green LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Michigan
    Messages: 17,625

    It sounds to me like he got a better bid, but knows he had a verbal agreement with you (or via e-mail in writing), and is now trying to cover his butt by making things difficult enough for you that you want to go ahead and pass. Hold his feet to the fire. At least maybe you'll get something out of it, and try to find a reputable att. that'll take it on contingency, so that you are out nothing up front. There are plenty of them out there who operate that way now, and some are darn good.

    Good luck!
  10. Aaronnc

    Aaronnc LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 7B
    Messages: 354

    Good deal. As long as he/she is reputable, then they should definitely let you know where you stand.

    I'd also, prep for the worse if I were, and get your affairs in order. It will make things go much smoother over time.

    As in, after the attorney, swing by a store and get a huge file bucket and 4 usb thumb drives. Make 4 paper copies of everything. And I mean everything. Like 1090's, e-mails, performance reports if you have any, receipts, letters of recommendation, references, you name it, make 4 copies of it. Two for you, (one as a back-up in case you change attorneys or lose one or whatever.),one for the clerk of court, and one for your attorney. Then scan everything into the thumb drives and do the same. See attorneys and courts LOVE to stall and postpone cases due to "losing" or "misplacing" paperwork or files. If they have a paper copy and a PDF thumb drive, then they can't use that excuse as readily, because it makes them look incompetent. Trust me, a little time and money now, will save you a bunch of headaches down the road. Also, call your CPA or whoever does your financials, and prep them on this also.

    Also, your attorney will do this, but it's a good idea for you to have your own personal copy, and if you change attorneys, it helps to. But go down to the clerk of court and pay $1 to file a "motion of discovery". (Then you'll have to pay whatever the clerks fees are for copies.) What that is, is a history of everything legal about this company. Have they backed out on contracts before? Gone to court before for the same thing? Pay their bills on time? etc......... It gives you some ammo, and knowledge before going into this. Expertly file/date/time-stamp everything and keep meticulous notes and start a journal to record EVERYTHING. Take videos of equipment, etc........ If you can think it up, then record it, copy it, and file it away neatly. You'll probably need it.

    Then again, your attorney might charge you $500 and send off a nasty certified letter, and they'll freak-out, pay up, and the coin will hit your bank account by Monday morning. Who knows? But prepare for the worse I say. Preparation is key. Think like a Boy Scout, and you'll do fine.

    Hope this helps some. Keep us updated.

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