My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: NC
This one is sticky. I stopped payment on a check to a person hired to draw plans. The check was issued as a compramised settlement because he was not able to draw a functional roof plan (that is the opinion of every building professional that looked at it later, including achitechs and engineers). At the time, I felt the other design work was adequit to good and wanted to pay for those elements. The amount sent was about 70% of his invoice. I was going to have to have someone better qualified to complete the work. The tricky part is, I sent him the offer to settle, then sent the check via online banking right after the email without his acceptance (I know this was my second mistate behind not vetting him properly). Anyway, his reply a couple days later said he will not accept anything less than full invoice. So the payment was stopped with the midset that (right or wrong) a payment of any amount could be construde that the full payment is due. So I chose to keep the money and resolve it through civil court if needed. He absolutley sued and put a lein on the property where the building would have been built. To be able to do this and get lawyer fees back, it has to go through superior court instead of small claims.
Even stickier, while doing the due diligence, I've discovered that the 60% to 70% of the work done is useless. The foundation and floor plan will need to start from scratch and, even if viable, most designers would not use his work (understandably so). After additional settlement talks, mediation that went nowhere, and his lawyer just racking up billable hours for pointless banter, they still want full payment without turning over any completed work (I know it's useless work but, it's the priciple now). I do have a standing offer of half the amount just to walk away, or the full amount for completed work (yes, I'm still offering to pay him full amount if he can pull it out). They say that will not happen but maybe that's lawyers doing what they get paid for (no offense).
My attorney says getting his attorney fees paid is unlikely as I have not shown malice or attempted to defraud, and I have engaged and attempted to settle. He is not happy about the stop payment and, in hine sight, i would agree. Bottom line, he breached contract and could not perform the work after multiple attempts to correct. He claims the work is correct now but experts say otherwise. it is scheduled for a jury but they are pushing for a bench trial. I'm guessing so the judge will see the obsurdity in my story about the stopped payment... Trial date is next month, I'll never recover the money spent so far but if they pevail and get attorney fees back, that will be devistating. Should I cowl to their demands or stick to my guns? Attorney fees are estimate at $25,000, five time the amount in dispute. My attorney is doing his job, giving me my options but very little encouragement either way. Any opinion about jury vs judge trial, or any other help appreciated.