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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    16

    Default A Customer is Suing Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California
    This is a small claims $5000 claim
    I have a small business that repairs camera lenses.
    6 years ago someone came to me and asked for estimate on repairing a broken lens.
    I gave him an estimate and he never responded.
    He went off the radar for about 5 years (I kept his lens in storage) and suddenly came back to me a year or so ago. I pulled the lens out of storage but now there is evident glass separation(damage) on one of the internal elements. The lens was dropped so it probably started when he brought it to me but was not visible that much. Now he wanted it fixed and threatened with a lawsuit. I took some time trying to repair, make the lens perform better and returned it to him.
    In the mean time he served me the court date papers. First he said he'll not pursue but he just changed his mind (a week before the court date). I don't think I can find the old repair estimate. I wrote it off long time ago.
    He never paid me a penny..

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,648

    Default Re: A Client is Suing Me Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    What is his claimed cause of action? In other words, what is his claim as to why you owe him anything?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    16

    Default Re: A Client is Suing Me Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    Quote Quoting jk
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    What is his claimed cause of action? In other words, what is his claim as to why you owe him anything?
    I just noticed- I think he got it reversed.
    It says :
    "Plaintiff caused damage to defendants property (a motion picture camera lens) rendering it useless. Plaintiff has not returned damaged property or explained cause of damage despite years of diligent effort to recover property"
    It does not give a specific date but it specifies the period 1.1.2012 to 1.5.2013. I don't know what he is talking about with the dates- I've had this lens for 6 years. Maybe he has some emails but they are more recent. I know-it's a mess....
    The property has been returned and signed for...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,648

    Default Re: A Client is Suing Me Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    if that is what it really says, sounds like he has no idea what he is doing but given we are talking small claims, don't be surprised to see the judge to allow the complaint to be amended with the terms of plaintiff and defendant corrected.


    Other than that; the plaintiff has the burden of proving their case. If you have a signed reciept for the lens, it obviously flies in the face of the plaintiff's claim. That also can damage their veracity if it is not explainable.

    Other than that; do not lose your own case. Make the plaintiff prove his case. You defend against his evidence.



    the problem I see is you did work on the lens after it had been at your shop for a long time due to the now seen damage. He will likely argue you did the damage. You then attempted to repair it but apparently it is not repairable. Since you did the work about a year ago to damage that was not known until he came to pick up the lens (after 5 years), the clock will likely be based on the discovery date of the damage and not the original delivery.

    Can you defend a claim that you caused the damage? If it was not noticeable when he brought it in, it might lose your case for you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    16

    Default Re: A Client is Suing Me Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    I was just going to say that I repair lenses and the fact that it was given to me for repair obviously means that it was broken and not useable. It was impact damage and the damage was already there. I also have some email communication with him that the damage was there when I pulled it after he wanted it back but I'm not sure if I should volunteer anything...

  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    38,648

    Default Re: A Client is Suing Me Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    Quote Quoting zaku
    View Post
    I was just going to say that I repair lenses and the fact that it was given to me for repair obviously means that it was broken and not useable. It was impact damage and the damage was already there. I also have some email communication with him that the damage was there when I pulled it after he wanted it back but I'm not sure if I should volunteer anything...
    ok, it was broken, or damaged, but in what way? You say it was impact damage but the separation was not apparent at the time. You will likely have to describe how that could be, to the judges satisfaction. Otherwise, the guy brought in a damaged lens, with no separation and when he retrieved it from you, there was separation. Sounds like it happened while in your care.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,435

    Default Re: A Client is Suing Me Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    Quote Quoting zaku
    View Post
    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California
    This is a small claims $5000 claim
    I have a small business that repairs camera lenses.
    6 years ago someone came to me and asked for estimate on repairing a broken lens.
    I gave him an estimate and he never responded.
    He went off the radar for about 5 years (I kept his lens in storage) and suddenly came back to me a year or so ago. I pulled the lens out of storage but now there is evident glass separation(damage) on one of the internal elements. The lens was dropped so it probably started when he brought it to me but was not visible that much. Now he wanted it fixed and threatened with a lawsuit. I took some time trying to repair, make the lens perform better and returned it to him.
    In the mean time he served me the court date papers. First he said he'll not pursue but he just changed his mind (a week before the court date). I don't think I can find the old repair estimate. I wrote it off long time ago.
    He never paid me a penny..
    Go into court and explain it to the judge the same way you explained it here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,300

    Default Re: A Client is Suing Me Over an Old Repair He Never Approved or Paid for

    So you will have to go to court and answer the complaint with whatever you can find for evidence. Don't forget that the plaintiff has to prove his case with evidence also so he might have the written estimate.

    One thing working in your favor is the statute of limitations.

    In CA

    Breach of a written contract: Four years from the date the contract was broken.
    Breach of an oral contract: Two years from the date the contract was broken.
    Property damage: Three years from the date the damage occurred.

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