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  1. #1

    Default Stopped Work After Non-Payment, Receiving Threats, Can They Do Anything

    My question involves independent contractors in the state of: Florida

    I'm located in a different state. I've worked for a company doing engineering for approximately two years now in Florida, up until recently when payments started falling behind. I had found work to replace them so I basically sent them a notice saying that in a month I'll no longer be providing services due to lack of payment, I'd be happy to help train a replacement and continue my duties up until that mark, assuming they pay the invoice that was due for already completed work.

    He followed up with an e-mail saying that after looking at some past invoices he needs to talk with me because something doesn't add up, and has completely ignored any attempts I've made to get in contact with him since this follow up message..

    They hired a new engineer, who has been sending me questions. I basically have just forwarded them on to the owner, reminding him that I'd like to be of assistance, but not without payment of previous invoices. He's sent back this cryptic message saying 'it would be in your best interest to help the new engineer'.

    I guess my question is, does he have any sort of legal grounds on which he can sue me? We've never had a formal contract written out, it's all been verbal, with a lot of back and forth e-mail regarding project status and other misc. bits. I have a feeling he's found something on an invoice he doesn't feel is true. I'm pretty careful about how my invoices are prepared, even if this was true does he have a lawsuit there? I had originally verbally agreed to stay on until around August, before they stopped paying invoices. They have all the work I've completed, their problem is it's all software and there's some missing procedures that get everything up and running. Should I be worried? I feel that, if anything, I should take them to small claims court for the amounts they owe me, the only problem is they are across the country and I really don't have time to pursue it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Stopped Work After Non-Payment, Receiving Threats, Can They Do Anything

    Quote Quoting billMillon500
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    I guess my question is, does he have any sort of legal grounds on which he can sue me?
    Not from what you've told us so far. You have indicated that you stopped working with your client due to nonpayment, and have not indicated that you've done anything inappropriate such as retaining the client's proprietary information, work the client has paid for, the client's property, or anything along that line.
    Quote Quoting billMillon500
    I have a feeling he's found something on an invoice he doesn't feel is true. I'm pretty careful about how my invoices are prepared, even if this was true does he have a lawsuit there?
    If he paid money he didn't owe, he could sue you to try to get it back. If he hasn't paid the money, he still has the money.
    Quote Quoting billMillon500
    They have all the work I've completed, their problem is it's all software and there's some missing procedures that get everything up and running.
    If they have paid you for a complete product and you're withholding elements to coerce payment, they may have an issue. If they knew the product was not complete and chose to stop paying you for your work such that you would complete the product, the consequence of that choice is that they have only what they paid for - the incomplete product.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Stopped Work After Non-Payment, Receiving Threats, Can They Do Anything

    Thanks for the peace of mind.

    They have every tangible deliverable from the product. There's some procedures that aren't entirely obvious that I haven't sent them, or written down for that matter, but those are procedures that should be fairly obvious to someone skilled in my trade. I bill them hourly rates, for work completed, not for results.

    I've made sure to delete any information related to their company from my computer.

    My biggest fear is this guy who owns the company has too much time and money and loves to fight legal battles, bragging about what percentage of his life has been spent in the court room, mostly for patent related stuff in the past. He's the worst kind of person to have against you, and he could easily bankrupt me with legal fees and cross-country travel if he were to create some sort of lawsuit, even if it was false.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    CT & IL
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    5,273

    Default Re: Stopped Work After Non-Payment, Receiving Threats, Can They Do Anything

    Your smarter than most, congrats. Others would let billings pile up and up. If they wish to have you work for them anymore, demand payment in cash upfront.

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