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Can this electrician sue me for work he didn't do?

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by stream41, Jan 28, 2008.

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  1. stream41

    stream41 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    This is in Arkansas.

    Last week an electrician came to my house to fix a couple of random small things. We did not agree on a total price, and I did NOT sign any kind of contract. I'll try to make this story as short as possible, but the gist of it is that he acted extremely unprofessionally, and he was rude to his wife (who was there as his "helper"), so I asked him to leave. He had been there for 10 to 15 minutes, and all he had done was attempt to re-mount a light fixture (he couldn't do it and ended up taking the fixture down for me). I cannot express to you how uncomfortable I was standing there watching him practically yell at his wife.

    Right after that, I asked him to leave. To his credit, he left quickly and with no argument. He did ask for a $65 house call fee, which I paid him by personal check. He left, and I thought that was that.

    Later that day, he called and left a voicemail saying that he was sorry for his bad attitude, and it's because his 8-year-old daughter was killed last year, and he's been upset ever since. I did not call him back.

    The next night (Friday at about 8:30pm), he called again and said that I owe him $200 for the work that was not completed, and that he "knows his rights and the law" and that he will get his money. He called back again 10 minutes later and said that he's going to take me to small claims court, and that it will end up costing me $2000 to $3000, and he will get a lien against my home. He also said the local sherriff's department will be serving me with the lawsuit soon. I didn't answer the phone either time, so I have his voicemails saved on my phone. To be honest, he sounds like he's either intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. He sounds VERY unstable, and my fiancee is terrified. He didn't mention any of this the first time he called to apologize for his attitude, nor did he mention any extra money as he was leaving.

    Legally, does he have any ground to stand on? Like I said, no contracts were signed, and they never quoted me a total price of any kind - they only mentioned that they charge $65/hour. Can he actually sue me to pay him for work that he did NOT do? We're also a little worried that he used my check's signature to forge my signature on a bogus contract. If he did forge a fake contract, how do I prove that I didn't sign it? Keep in mind that this will be in small claims court (if he sues me), so hiring a handwriting expert probably wouldn't be cost-effective for a $200 case.

    While he was there, he constantly complained about his shoulder, and how his wife had recently been fired from her job so they no longer had health insurance, and he wasn't sure how they were going to pay for his shoulder surgery. My theory is that he saw how easily I gave him the $65, and now he thinks he can intimidate another $200 or $300 out of me to help pay his bills. I think he had been drinking, and he stupidly decided to "drunk dial" me and throw some random threats out there.

    Thanks!
     
  2. stream41

    stream41 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I've been told by both a lawyer and a general contractor (both of which I trust) that if this guy doesn't have a written contract (which he doesn't), then there's absolutely nothing he can do. He *could* still file the lien against my house, but that would be incredibly stupid of him, since I could sue the crap out of him.
     
  3. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    He could also sue you in small claims court.
     
  4. stream41

    stream41 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Right, but apparently in Arkansas without a contract, he's dead in the water. It will be the first thing the judge asks to see.
     
  5. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    Why do you think he doesn't have a contract?
     
  6. stream41

    stream41 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Because there wasn't one! He didn't mention a contract, he didn't discuss it with me, and I certainly didn't sign one. The only piece of paper that was involved that day was the personal check I used to pay him the service call fee.

    He can't just get his own contract (without my signature on it) and claim that contract applies here, can he?
     
  7. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    A contract does not necessarily have to be written.
     
  8. stream41

    stream41 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That may be true in a lot of cases. However, I was told by a general contractor who deals with this stuff all the time that in Arkansas, there has to be a written contract in order for him to enforce anything.
     
  9. seniorjudge

    seniorjudge Super Moderator

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    Ah!

    And what law school did that contractor go to?

    Anyway, have him tell you the statute number and then post it here.

    :angel
     
  10. Green_Hornet

    Green_Hornet New Member

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    Not necessarily thats up to the judge. Oral contract (Parole contracts) are enforceable. $3000. is a ridicules amount.
     
  11. stream41

    stream41 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well, he claimed he's going to sue me for $200, but that it will "end up costing me $2000 to $3000." I really don't think he'd go through all the trouble for $200.

    Plus, we didn't even have an oral contract. They never mentioned a total price, and there was no invoice or discussion of a quote for the whole job. They only mentioned what they charged hourly. There was no "agreement" or consensus for the whole job. I paid him his house call fee for the 15 minutes he was there, and that was that.
     
  12. stream41

    stream41 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Oh, and let's not forget that he was being verbally abusive to his wife directly in front of me. I have a recording of his voicemail in which he admits to having a bad attitude and an inappropriate dynamic with his wife.

    Even *IF* we had an "oral" contract, wouldn't his behavior still give me the right, as the customer/consumer, to ask him to leave?
     

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