******* Legal Advice Needed ASAP ******** (1 Viewer)

keepoursaints

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Guys I have a question regarding small claims court.

As I'm sure 99% of you know, I own my own business designing websites. My issue involves a client refusing to pay for a website that I have been working on since January of 2007. I am not going to post the business name, obviously so I'm going to be as specific as I can.

Basically we made a verbal agreement (I will NEVER do that again) that I would design a website for him in exchange for him doing some work at my house. My policy in website design that I relay to all of my clients is that the "design" of the site is the most imporantant aspect of the site and I won't move forward adding information until I get the greenlight from them to do so. I design my sites to where each page looks the same (ie. the buttons are in the same place, etc. just like SR.com) so really there is no need to move forward adding textual information until my client is satisfied with the look of the site. I explained this to this client as I normally do. I have absolutely no problem tweaking a design over and over until the client is 100% satisfied and that was the case with this guy. I sent him a design I came up with on my own because he said he didn't have a particular look he was hoping to go for so he gave me artisitic license to come up with something. I made a design, sent him an email and unfortunately although I have his reply, it doesn't show what he is replying to so I don't know if this will hold up as evidence or not.

Once I got his approval, I duplicated the look into 11 pages, specific to the ones he told me to make and I spent the time copying over images, cleaning them up and adding all the information he had provided for me to add to the pages. I didn't hear from him for a while and when I did contact him he said he wanted to change the look. I honestly believe it was his wife who wanted a different look, but that's a whole different story. I didn't object, but instead proceeded on a new design based on suggestions from his wife and himself.. I even had a picture to use as a model because he had a friend of his come up with a design. I created the design and again was told that they liked the look of the site so I began creating more pages.

Basically I created a 15 page site and every page contains information, except for his frequently asked questions page.. but I wasn't given information from him so I couldn't just make up something to put on there.. he knew that.

My website CLEARLY lists my prices based on the number of pages created for a site... a 15 page site costs $1500.... with hosting it runs just under $2000.

He said he would only pay me $700.

I asked him why and he said that's all he felt he owed me because he talked to some other website people and they said a 6 page website wouldn't cost more than that. That's the point.. a 6 page website is priced at $450 on my site...but he has a 15 page site that I pulled up on my laptop in front of him today. Not to mention 11 pages of a site I wouldn't have created if he hadn't given me the thumbs up so we're talking closer to $3000 with all the work I put into it.

He even offered me $2000 during the process to cover what I had done, but I told him not to worry about it because I took him at his word that he would handle his end of the bargain. He never did ANYTHING on his part.. he did drive out to my house one time. I met with him at his house atleast 4 times to go over the site.

I have a folder containing 1641 files of images, html pages, etc that I made on his site because it was tweaked over and over and over on his request. I have time stamps on all of the files that show when they were modified, etc. I have all of his pages up on my server and can prove that at the time of the "dispute" there were 15 functional pages up.

Basically I can't accept $700 for the amount of work I did and he is refusing to pay a dime more so I would like to take him to small claims court to recoup my money.

I am seeking advice as to whether or not you think I have a "leg to stand on" so to speak and I am "LEGALLY IGNORANT" when it comes to law stuff. I have piles of evidence all documented... he has nothing to go by other than saying he doesn't feel the site is worth more than $700. A portfolio of all my sites is listed on my website so he had over a year to browse through my site to see my work.
Thanks for ANY advice you guys can give me and I'm so sorry this is so long-winded, but I wanted to make sure I gave you as much information as possible.

Please feel free to comment and ask any questions and I'll answer what I can.
 

ibelieve

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I dont know much about the legal aspect, but if you cant do anything about it just settle for the 700 and then delete all the stuff and screw it up. I know you wont due it because you have a business to run, but it would be nice lol.
 

Thorin

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Basically we made a verbal agreement
Ouch :covri:

I'm pretty sure the defendant would have to admit to the terms you have described here in front of a judge. If you have any invoices / timesheets on record it might help.

This stuff will help I think.

I have a folder containing 1641 files of images, html pages, etc that I made on his site because it was tweaked over and over and over on his request. I have time stamps on all of the files that show when they were modified, etc. I have all of his pages up on my server and can prove that at the time of the "dispute" there were 15 functional pages up
 

Superfan

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just put a lean on them. they are so easy to do. the person cant sell anything unless they pay for your lean against them.

my brother was a victim of a lean. he had his carpet put in but the guys who did it had seams and lines everywhere and looked horrible. my brother never signed anything ad they put a lean on him b/c he said i am not paying for this. he had to pay it and they never changed the carpet!!!!!!! talk about rape. so i think you have a chance.
 
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Shawn

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just put a lean on them. they are so easy to do. the person cant sell anything unless they pay for your lean against them.
You can't just put a lien on someone without a judgement. He needs to go to court to do that. And I doubt he'll get a judgement for anywhere close to what he's asking for.

You need to decide whether you want to have a reputation for being litigious. I'd seriously consider walking away from the whole thing. The guy might decide he wants your work, in which case you'd hold the cards.
 

Diabolik The Saint

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keepoursaints, my brother is an attorney up here in north Louisiana. The only thing I can see is that if you hired one it might cost that much in retainer fees. Also when he offered you the money ($2000) did you ever consider that he make it a hold check until the work was completed? One other thing though is do you actually think he will compromise on any payment if you hire a lawyer or take him to claims court? Also you might have statute of limitations problems. How long does it take to make a website like that and collect your money on a normal basis?
 
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peytonknows

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just put a lean on them. they are so easy to do. the person cant sell anything unless they pay for your lean against them.

my brother was a victim of a lean. he had his carpet put in but the guys who did it had seams and lines everywhere and looked horrible. my brother never signed anything ad they put a lean on him b/c he said i am not paying for this. he had to pay it and they never changed the carpet!!!!!!! talk about rape. so i think you have a chance.
:covri:

:covri: hahaha:covri: hahaha:covri:
 

Clayton Bigs

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Live and learn, man. Take from this experience one thing: Business is business. You don't require an initial deposit for your work? I'd rethink your business strategy if you are self-employed.

If they can't offer you the deposit right from the beginning, then it isn't worth it. Plus, asking for an initial deposit makes your company seem more legitimate and established. If this is your only source of income, find something else and do this on the side. Be patient and things will blossom if you're a good designer/developer. Don't compromise your business due to monetary constraints that can be found elsewhere.


Also, nice guys finish last in the business world.
 

FWtex

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I am not sure I follow the whole story so this may not work for you.

Take the $700 he is willing to pay based on 6 pages then give him six pages of what you created. If its not complete its not your fault because that is what he paid you for.

If nothing is in writing he would not have a leg to stand on in court AGAINST you. He may goof and try to use the emails you don't have against you but then you can use them back in your favor.

Also, explain to him how difficult it will be to find another developer who will work on his site if he develops any problems or wants to upgrade later. He should see the light soon.
 

kcirdor

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I am not sure I follow the whole story so this may not work for you.

Take the $700 he is willing to pay based on 6 pages then give him six pages of what you created. If its not complete its not your fault because that is what he paid you for.

If nothing is in writing he would not have a leg to stand on in court AGAINST you. He may goof and try to use the emails you don't have against you but then you can use them back in your favor.

Also, explain to him how difficult it will be to find another developer who will work on his site if he develops any problems or wants to upgrade later. He should see the light soon.
I like this idea. If he is only willing to pay for 700 worth of your work, you can only give him 700 worth.
 
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keepoursaints

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My typical business engagements do are monetary jobs and yes, I have a contract that I require them to sign and I receive 50% before any work is done. This guy was referred by a friend and we spoke at length before I ever began anywork.

Obviously I'll never enter into a verbal agreement on any type of site or do any type of bartering without a contract.

I'm not going to hire an attorney, but my father's attorney suggested small claims court as there is no legal representation. The max amount allowed is $3000 so my case would fall into that amount.

All of the files I have are date stamped by the computer so it shows all of the work done and when it was done, so I would think that would help a bit.

At this point I don't want his company showing off any of my work for him or to be associated with him at all, but at the same time invested ALOT of hours on his site and driving to meet him at his residence, etc when I could have focused that time on other clients.

I'm not a lawsuit type of guy for sure, but at the same time I don't like being taken advantage of...

my wife is going to the BR court tomorrow to find out what would need to be done if we do decide to proceed to small claims court.. again this would not entail hiring an attorney and he wouldn't be able to hire one either. This is what I was told from my dad's lawyer.

Eeyore.... glad you like the phrase.. it's the truth though
 

Jonesy77

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In Texas, that contract does not need to be in writing. Oral contracts are binding unless they fall under certain categories (example: sale of real property). There are also equitable causes of action like unjust enrichment and quantum meruit, which is basically I did work that benefitted this guy and he accepted, so he owes me.

Don't know about LA, but in Texas, you could probably get some money from him in court if you really wanted to press it.
 

Pure Energy

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keepoursaints

keepoursaints

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Seriously, I'd try this....if you make it to TV, let us know (and don't forget to give me some credit). Good Luck! I'll be rooting for you.

http://www.judgejudy.com/#/submityourcase

http://peoplescourt.warnerbros.com/contact.html

http://www.judgedavidyoung.com/cases_and_tickets/make_your_case/?id=1&sub=form

p.s. Don't spoil it for us by telling us if you win or lose.
:lol: my cousin suggested the same thing.... i can't imagine stooping to that low :hihi:

Thanks Jonesy.. we're going to do some digging tomorrow just to see what options we have.
 

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