In October of last year, I've decided to open a Water & Smoke shop in Southern California. The water store requires a commercial filtration system to be installed along with other plumbing work. My friend, who I've known for a good 6-7 years now, runs a water sytems and supplies company suggested that he would do it for me at a much lower cost than what I would have to pay if I were to purchase the filtration system at retail price through the company that he worked with. His price was $5,000 +/- a few dollars vs. $15,000, a substantial saving for me.
At the time of payment for the system, I gave him $5,000 and he gave me a written receipt for it dated October 28, 2005 along with a verbal promise that the machine can be completed in two (2) weeks. My lease commenced on November 1, 2005. We began construction of the project and it took roughly 5 weeks for the completion of the interior improvements. During this time, the filtration system could not be installed because the tile work was not completed. In December 2005, after the completion of the construction phase, I contacted him to get system complete but without success. He kept promising that he will "wrap it up by this weekend." Throughout these months (December til now), I told him that he can drag out the project for as long as he wishes under the condition that he makes the lease payment. Unfortunately, I did not document any of our phone conversations as I trusted my friend.
In May of this year, I got fed up and wrote him an email to cancel the purchase of the system through him and ask for our money back. However, he gave us a written timetable as to when certain components of the system will be installed and it looked reasonable; the work was going to be completed within a week time. However, it is now July, and our system is still nonfunctional. The system yields bad product, the filtered water taste is full of chlorine.
Two (2) days ago, I wrote him an ultimatum, so to speak. I gave him two (2) days to contact us and get the system completed by 5:00 p.m. July 5, 2006 as it has been eight (8) months that I have paid lease; or I will seek legal recourse. The amount of money I spent paying the lease and other expenses for the store front has exceeded (way exceeded) the amount I would have paid for a brand new system (10x better than the current incomplete makeshift system) and fully installed.
Can verbal contract be upheld in the court of California? Can I use email correspondence as part of the evidence? What about the undocumented phone conversations? If I have some basis to sue him, what types of finanical compensation can I ask the court to grant me? Please advise.