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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    4

    Default Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California

    I own an auto repair business where I specialize in performance modifications. A customer requested that I swap an engine for them, in return I would get the old engine in the car plus some cash. My responsibilities would include resurfacing & reconditioning the cylinder heads, porting them, installing heads on the engine, cams, oil pump and oil pan, and all engine accessories and put the engine back in the car. The customer would also help with the work. I took on the job and within a few days of completion of the job the engine developed a rod knock. The engine was removed by another shop and the owner took the short block back to the shop that built it but they would not warranty their work because of sealant that I used on the oil pan.

    To act in good faith to my customer I offered to rebuild this engine in the exact same form it was when we started. I also gave them the option of rebuilding another vehicle they had in place of the engine that failed. It was of equal or lessor value and they opted to go that route and have me rebuild the engine in the other vehicle.

    Once I completed that job, I gave the customer a warranty for 30 days or 1000 miles to cover the break-in period of the engine. The customer brought the vehicle back to my shop once the break in period was complete so I could make adjustments on the vehicle's computer for tuning purposes. They indicated that it was running fine during that time. They sold the vehicle a month or two after the engine was rebuilt. I wrote them up an invoice for the parts used and labor on that vehicle's engine when I did the rebuild, showing them what was comped.

    Now they're suing me for both vehicles for "property damage" among other charges. They want the amount that I showed them on an invoice for the vehicle they sold and an outrageous amount for fixing the engine in the first car...much more than the car is even worth.

    At the time that I performed the work on this person's car, I was not a member of California BAR, I did however have a business license and ficticious business name. I became a member in March of this year.

    I've been looking up affirmative defenses to use in my answer to their summons, would I be able to use the Accord and Satisfaction defense, seeing as our original contract (first car) was superceded by a new contract (second car) and I fulfilled that obligation? With the fact that I was not a member of BAR at the time I did the work, what effect will this have on my case?

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,647

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    do you have anything in writing that shows the agreement the accepted the rebuild of the second engine as a settlement for the claim on the first engine?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    4

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    I do not, it was a verbal contract. I do have a voicemail left by the customer where they state that they wanted me to order parts for the second vehicle's engine rebuild so they could sell that car off after the rebuild to free up funds to rebuild the engine for the first car, and once I got the second vehicle rebuild done it would settle the matter on the first car. They also dated the voicemail by saying that they wished me a happy Thanksgiving so that would establish a timeframe.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,647

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    don't lose that voicemail. It is your only proof of your defense apparently.


    would I be able to use the Accord and Satisfaction defense, seeing as our original contract (first car) was superceded by a new contract (second car) and I fulfilled that obligation?
    I would believe so because that is what it was, at least as you have explained it.

    Have you reviewed the actual statute concerning the matter?

    http://law.justia.com/codes/californ...civ/1521-1526/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    I have read California's statue on Accord and Satisfaction, but I was confused when I saw the parts about checks and what not. It would seem to me that in reading more on A&S that it does not only apply to money but also to work performed and property received, and this is what I was hoping to get clarification on.

    Do you (or anyone else) know if not being a member of BAR at the time I performed the work is going to hurt me in this case? The customer had called BAR and filed a complaint but by the time they contacted me about it I was already a member and they did not fine me. They filed a report simply stating that I was not a member of BAR at the time the work was performed. I cannot find any information on cases where a shop was not a member of BAR and was sued and what the results were. Cases are public record are they not? Is there somewhere I can go to search for cases such as these?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,647

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    the part about checks is where the law typically comes into play. People write "paid in full" on their checks and think cashing it cancels the remaining debt.

    that it does not only apply to money but also to work performed and property received, and this is what I was hoping to get c
    correct.

    �1521.] Section Fifteen Hundred and Twenty-one. An accord is anagreement to accept, in extinction of an obligation, somethingdifferent from or less than that to which the person agreeing toaccept is entitled.
    as to the BAR issue: had you ever had a license? If so; When and why didn't you have it at the time of this situation?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    You are not ultimately responsible for honoring another companies warranty. It is their fault for piecing the engine work out to multiple workers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    as to the BAR issue: had you ever had a license? If so; When and why didn't you have it at the time of this situation?
    I've never had a BAR license until April of this year after sending in the paperwork and $200 the first week of February. I've been in business since January of '11. Because I specialize in performance modifications, I thought that I did not need to have a BAR license. I thought that was for general automotive repairs. I discovered I was wrong and rectified it as quickly as possible.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,647

    Default Re: Customer Suing Me Over Work Performed on Their Car

    that could be a problem. You will simply have to do what you can. I would not make a point of this to the plaintiff or the court. Don't lie but don't give info that is possibly damaging to you unless required to do so.

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