small claims court

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by CLARK LAWN, Sep 23, 2008.


    CLARK LAWN LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,526

    about a month ago i filed in small claims court on someone who after they agrred on the price and we did the job they figured out how much i made per hour and refused to pay ( offered about half). well today i get a letter from the court house telling me that the certified mail went unclaimed. what does that mean? does it still go to court or am i now SOL?
  2. AJ Lawnscapes

    AJ Lawnscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    Well, would assume your SOL. But if you've got friends with bats, you might get your money.

    They agreed to the price, they have to pay it. A handshake, a signed estimate, something is a binding contract.

    CLARK LAWN LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,526

    im goimg to call my lawyer later today but if thats all you have to do to get out of a lawsuit ill have to remember that.
  4. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    the deadbeat needs to be served the court doc's, if it's worth it you can hire a PI to serve the papers to him.
  5. brian_b

    brian_b LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Take him to court, you can contact your attorney but odds are he will tell you it is not worth it.

    Before you spend any additional money on the customer, have you set up a collections program for yourself, meaning sending out statements, past due notices - 30, 60, 90 and 120 Final Payment Letter?

    Also, are you charging interest? I would suggest in any new letters sent to include: While your account is pending settlement, your account will be charged an interest rate of 18% (1.5% monthly) on the total past due amount or the largest interest rate allowed by applicable law, whichever is less.

    I would suggest going to your local district court and file the case yourself if you do not receive a response, it may cost $35 or so. Be sure to include in the amount you are suing for, your costs for collections efforts and accrued interest. Bring to court all of your documentation.

    Your other option would be filing a mechanics lien.
  6. brian_b

    brian_b LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    I may have misread your first post, if you already filed, and the certified letter comes back, he more than likely will not show for the court date. Be sure to bring the returned card and letter to the court. You may win by default.
  7. 1cooltreeguy

    1cooltreeguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 630

    SERVICE OF PROCESS is REQUIRED - There are several ways to do it: Certified Mail(failed), Hire a local process server(some times sherrif depts. will do it for free or $5) OR you can hire a licensed process server to do it for around $50 depending on distance and difficulty. This is simple because is is small claims and in some states it can be posted on front door or sub served on anyone at the residence over 18 years of age. After the individual or business is served with the law suit - a PROOF OF SERVICE has to be filed on at the courthouse and then the date set can move forward for the deadbeat to show up...
  8. N.H.BOY

    N.H.BOY LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,603

    Three words PRE PAID LEGAL . Real lawyers, Real stuff. P.M. me if you wish, Ill give you info.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    The problem is that even if you win the judgment
    they still don't have to pay.

    And I hate to say it but it's looking a little bit as if this
    could be the kind of person who might just do that.

    This is good advice in my book, along with the rest of what brian said.
    And you might still never get paid, but a collections system is a whole lot cheaper,
    after it is all set up it tends to cost pennies on the dollar when compared to lawsuits,
    being that the end result is all about the same the point here is to let them know
    that you mean business, and in the most cost-effective way possible.

    At least that's how I see that.
  10. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    We're taking a lady to court on 10-16. she did kinda same thing but her bill was about 100.00 less than her estimate :confused: We spent the exrta money to have her served by a Constable, that way the letter cant go unclaimed and returned. I would think you could do the same.

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