Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    3

    Default Sueing for Breach of Contract

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: UT (However I believe it's also PA, because the business is located in PA. The contract was signed by me in UT.)

    I've got a small claims suit in about two weeks. I'm suing my publisher for breach of contract. They're a self-publisher; I paid them about $3k to print books and get a package that included a website. It's been two years, this company basically can't find their ass with both hands, a flashlight, and a special ass map.

    The absolute bare bones is that their contract says they'll issue statements every 90 days, and they don't. I got one statement from them after requesting it and it was wrong and had to be corrected. I also have not received my website. I am not receiving royalty checks, but I don't know what sales I've made that would indicate I need to be paid? The rest of the contract s pretty vague. I got a free consultation with a lawyer who said the contract was "Very basic", and there's plenty of room for interpretation. A lot of arguments could be made saying "It doesn't say that" but also "It doesn't NOT say that, either."

    For example: it says nothing about how the website hashes out. Just "We'll make you a website." They told me "Well, you need to pay for a Wordpress expansion for $X for the year." I said "My contract says nothing about me shelling out any extra money for the website. The website was part of the package I purchased. I'm not paying you any extra money." They equivocated, then tried to say my domain name would belong to them for a year after I signed it over to them and then I "was on my own." When I asked further questions I got no answer, the work on the website stalled, and it was right around the time I was fed up and filing anyway.

    Expanded stuff is they don't pick up the phones, they don't communicate, and they offer stuff they should have been doing in the first place as a favor to you; i.e."Why don't we get your royalty check sent out to you?" Two weeks later, no royalty check, etc. It took 4 months to receive a print order that was supposed to take 4-6 weeks and that damaged my ability to market myself at a comic convention. A lot of the contract is extremely vague and basically says "It's not our fault if your book is shitty so we're not responsible for it being shitty" but the book itself was laid out by me and the product isn't bad. It's just absolutely everything surrounding it. I can't get customer service to save my life, I can't print the damn thing, and I'm on my own marketing wise despite them saying they'd help and a "book launch" being part of my book package.

    I have a timeline with emails and texts showing a lot of verbal promises; "We can offer you a $700 marketing package instead of a refund", marketing package never materialized. "Your check is in the mail", check never came. I had a particular person assigned to me after a while who dodged my calls and emails for updates and who eventually left the company. (When I sent him a copy of the summons I got an email in all caps telling me he's no longer affiliated with the company and to refer information to the CEO, who was the other name on the summons.)

    I'm learning as I go; I just found out BBB reviews are hearsay, so that's kind of a bummer because it shows other people having the same problems I do - fake promises, orders taking forever to fulfill, bad communication.

    I want to cancel my contract with the company and get my money back, basically. They wasted 2 years of my life.

    But any assistance or due diligence I can do before then would be appreciated. I can post a redacted version of the contract if it would help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,671

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    If I'm reading this correctly, you've already filed your lawsuit in Utah, served the summons and complaint on the enemy, and have some sort of court date in two weeks in your local small claims court.

    If that's correct I hate to be a downer but I'm guessing that nobody will show up, you'll get a default judgment and you'll find that it's impossible to collect because the company exists only on paper with no assets.

    I think you've been scammed.

    Whatever complaints you found online you could have found by looking before you did business with the scammers.

    If you find that you end up kissing your $3500 goodbye, consider using Amazon's self-publishing system. Much more reliable and a lot less costly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1,068

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    Quote Quoting Plethora88
    View Post
    I've got a small claims suit in about two weeks.
    I assume this means the case is set for trial in two weeks. I also assume the case is pending in Utah.

    Beyond that, I'm not really sure what your question is (or if you even have a question).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    If I'm reading this correctly, you've already filed your lawsuit in Utah, served the summons and complaint on the enemy, and have some sort of court date in two weeks in your local small claims court.

    If that's correct I hate to be a downer but I'm guessing that nobody will show up, you'll get a default judgment and you'll find that it's impossible to collect because the company exists only on paper with no assets.

    I think you've been scammed.

    Whatever complaints you found online you could have found by looking before you did business with the scammers.

    If you find that you end up kissing your $3500 goodbye, consider using Amazon's self-publishing system. Much more reliable and a lot less costly.
    I have the name of the CEO. If I can't collect I'll just sue him. He's got more than one company, so if he's sued as an individual he'll definitely have assets.

    I'm amazed at how quickly and easily people want to dismiss this kind of behavior. "Too bad, so sad, you got scammed." How is that helpful? Especially on a forum where people are asking for help? I didn't realize "caveat emptor" was the end all, be all of law in the US.

    Quote Quoting pg1067
    View Post
    I assume this means the case is set for trial in two weeks. I also assume the case is pending in Utah.

    Beyond that, I'm not really sure what your question is (or if you even have a question).
    I was just trying to see if there was anything more I could do to build my case.

    I also looked up the registered address of the company, which means I can place a lien on their property and force a sale of the property according to Pennsylvania law. Since I'm going to get a default judgement anyway, what would be the best way to go about doing that?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,671

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    Quote Quoting Plethora88
    View Post
    I have the name of the CEO. If I can't collect I'll just sue him. He's got more than one company, so if he's sued as an individual he'll definitely have assets.
    Did you name him as a defendant in your current lawsuit. If you didn't you don't get to sue him later. The reason he's got a corporation is to provide him personal immunity and protect personal assets. That's how the law works when it comes to corporations. Even if you did name him personally, he would just invoke that and would be dismissed from the lawsuit while all you get to go after is the corporation which may have little or no assets.

    Quote Quoting Plethora88
    View Post
    I'm amazed at how quickly and easily people want to dismiss this kind of behavior. "Too bad, so sad, you got scammed." How is that helpful? Especially on a forum where people are asking for help? I didn't realize "caveat emptor" was the end all, be all of law in the US.
    Nobody is dismissing anything. Those of us who regular participate on this and other similar websites have been doing this for years, maybe decades, and see these same stories week after week, month after month. The unfortunate reality is that people get scammed every day and often lose lots of money that they can never get back. I gave you an honest opinion. Could I be wrong? Sure. Maybe you'll win and maybe he'll just write you a check.

    Quote Quoting Plethora88
    View Post

    I was just trying to see if there was anything more I could do to build my case.
    Not much. You had a contract. The other party breached it. You have all your documentation of what was supposed to be done and what wasn't. In small claims court you chouldn't need more than that.

    Quote Quoting Plethora88
    View Post

    I also looked up the registered address of the company, which means I can place a lien on their property and force a sale of the property according to Pennsylvania law. Since I'm going to get a default judgement anyway, what would be the best way to go about doing that?
    The lien would be on the defendant's property. The defendant is the corporation. Only the corporation's assets would apply. Once you have registered your judgment in PA you enforce it in accordance with state law.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    Yes, he's named as a defendant. He's the CEO of the company. His name was listed as the person who has to receive the summons.

    So if I get a default ruling, I can place a lien. They have an address that is the company's registered, legal address via their Secretary of State's website. Even if they're renting, the person they're renting from will not appreciate a lien. That doesn't sound like "nothing I can do, I got scammed."

    But I had to look that up on my own instead of you giving the advice that it was possible. That's not very helpful.

    I think I just need to stop asking the Internet for advice. All I'm getting is " Yeah you won't win." "How?" "Ah, you just won't." "Why not?" "Because you shouldn't have done business with a scammer."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,671

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    Quote Quoting Plethora88
    View Post

    So if I get a default ruling, I can place a lien. They have an address that is the company's registered, legal address via their Secretary of State's website. Even if they're renting, the person they're renting from will not appreciate a lien.
    Not only will the person they are renting from not appreciate a lien, that person will sue you for illegally placing a lien on property not owned by the defendant.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,176

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    what you seem to not understand is the ceo is not the corporation and unless you can prove he should be personally liable for corporate debts, he won’t be liable for corporate debts. You served the ceo of the business as a representative of the business. Unless you listed him as an additional defendant in his personal capacity, you haven’t sued the person currently holding the title of ceo.

    You can place a lien against property actually owned by whomever the court awards you a judgment against. Again, unless you named the ceo in he personal capacity, that won’t be the ceos personal property.

    So, did you list the person acting as ceo in his personal capacity or simply send the summons to him being the named registrant with the state and as such the proper person to send the summons to?

    As adjusterjack stated, a rented office means there is no real property to attach a lien to. If you do attempt to file a lien against the property they rent, you could find yourself being sued for slander of title by the actual owner or the property.

    Whether you got scammed or not is not something I can say. Maybe the company is simply poorly operated and while not being an actual scam, there is little effective difference between a scam and extremely poor performance under your contract. If you are suing for breach of contract, you aren’t claiming you were scammed but simply the company has failed to perform as obligated to under the contract. Claiming they have scammed you can open you up to a suit for defaming them. If you were arguing you were scammed, it would be likely you would be suing based on fraud rather than simple breach of contract. Proving fraud is much more difficult than proving breach of contract. It requires you to prove their original intent was to receive money from you and not provide the services stated. Proving a simple breach of contract claim means all you have to do is show they have not fulfilled the terms of the contract.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,091

    Default Re: Sueing for Breach of Contract

    Quote Quoting Plethora88
    View Post

    But any assistance or due diligence I can do before then would be appreciated. I can post a redacted version of the contract if it would help.
    You have court coming up. I've not read your contract nor have I seen the evidence that you have of the breach. So I have no idea how good (or bad) your case is.

    Don't count on the defendant not appearing and getting a default judgment; be prepared to try your case and prove the breach should the defendant appear. Should you win or get a default judgment against the company, you may go after any assets that the company has in Utah. But in order to get the assets the company has in Pennsylvania, you will need to domesticate the judgment you get in Pennsylvania. The defendant can resist your efforts to do that.

    One potential problem I see is that the Utah courts may lack jurisdiction over the defendant. If that is the case and you get a default judgment, the defendant likely can prevent you from domesticating the judgment. That would then force you to sue again in Pennsylvania. That might cost you more than your damages in the case, and those costs (travel to PA, etc) would not be added to your judgment. That would make the effort a losing one.

    If your contract is with a corporation, LLC, LLP, etc., then the CEO is not personally liable for the breach of contract and you could not go after his assets unless you can successfully pierce the corporate veil, which means proving that he does not run the business entity in a manner that respects the separate existence of the entity, e.g. he effectively treats the business assets as though they were his own. In order to do that, you must name him personally as a party to the lawsuit and then present the evidence in your case to prove to the court that it should pierce the corporate veil and hold him liable for the breach as well as the entity itself. My guess is that you do not have the kind of evidence it would take to succeed at that. Note that simply serving him with the lawsuit does not make him a party to the case.

    If you can't get a judgment against the CEO personally, then you can only look to the assets of the business to collect your judgment. Have you looked to see what assets there are? If the business has little in the way of assets you'll have a hard time collecting.

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Business Disputes: Breach of Contract
    By rafaelm2006 in forum Business Law
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-11-2009, 05:32 AM
  2. Verbal Contract and Breach of Contract Over Car
    By Moe in forum Cars and Dealerships
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-30-2008, 12:23 PM
  3. Business Disputes: Breach Of Promissory Note, and Breach of Contract Countersuit
    By NoloComprende in forum Business Law
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-23-2008, 09:23 AM
  4. Business Disputes: Breach of Contract
    By non sequitur in forum Business Law
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-26-2006, 08:08 PM
  5. Business Disputes: Verbal Contract and Breach of Contract
    By Tiffa in forum Business Law
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 07-08-2006, 06:52 PM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources