Any lawyers in the house?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by roadhouse, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    Mechanical liens is what I'm dealing with and I have a few questions.
     
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  2. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    Cyber? You know the tradesman rules, do you not? Concerning getting paid? Anyone?
     
  3. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    Any city/code inspectors in the house? I'm about to go rip out my equipment, starting with the breakers which I can return for some money. He'll have no a/c and the sad thing is it's not even the owner of the business' fault (except that he hired a non licensed contractor to do the work which is where my problem exists, I just found that out today, that the a/c company I was working for is not legit and he didn't pay me) but I need my money and yesterday.

    Okay, I'll spill the beans. First off, the guy I was working for is not a legal contractor. Again, I just found that out a few hours ago, maybe one hour ago and that is the God's honest truth. Now the owner of the dry cleaning business that I installed two 5 ton split air conditioning systems in has paid in full, the remaining balance of $1078 with some thousands already drawn throughout job, to the guy I was recently working with yesterday, Friday. The a/c guy owes me close to a grand. He did not pay me and is texting me, just about an hour ago, saying that no one will get paid until Monday when he will be closing down his (illegal and unregistered) business so as he can go work for some other company as a field supervisor. All lies, not a doubt about it.

    Anywho, I called an old a/c boss of mine, a very well known and pretty decent and very reputable not to mention legal company owner, who gave me the city of Houston's chief inspector's number, told me to call him and get the dry cleaners shut down.He's not at work until normal business hours on Monday but I did leave a message. I then called another a/c company's operations manager (I called him at home) that the guy I was just working for said he used to work for. I told this other guy my situation to which he said that I can get an inspector out to this job I just did for old illegal boy and get his business shut down and I, without being a licensed contractor but being an employee and with my labor on the job, can put a lien on the business and name my amount (was told by someone that lien amounts can be up to three times original contract amount but not certain and that doesn't sound right but I don't care what it is, I just want my money) to which the owner of the dry cleaners will have to pay. Also was told that any and all contracts between dry cleaner owner and this a/c guy (hack) are null and void seeing as how the guy is unlicensed and no permits.

    I also just found out that this job is in the City of Houston limits, meaning that this job should have been an inspection so all is ending up working out in my favor, why an inspector is now involved and on my side from what I've been told thus far.

    Anyone have anything they could add? It'd really be appreciated. This is the first time this has ever happened to me and I swear on my life I thought this guy was legal as I asked him repeatedly and he said yes, since 1987, and if he's purchasing new equipment, well, I didn't question his licensing because you have to be licensed to do so.
    I don't know where he gets his equipment, pretty certain he's got a conncection with a cash account somewhere as he should not be allowed to buy that himself either but he got it all, two brand new five ton Ruud systems.

    I feel like acomplet and utter idiot for putting myself into this situation as again, I always have worked for and with legal and reputable companies, this guy just needed help bad and called me first instead of me calling him looking for work and I started as soon as I got off the phone with him the same day. How he heard of me was through an ex-coworker of his that I've worked with at another company in the past who recently quit with this guy.

    I'm certain of one thing, this is no laughing matter and he will be facing jail time of which I think he's on parole already for dwi's so make that prison time.

    I need my money and I'm worried too, I never would want to send anyone to prison but I have to do what I have to do.

    If anyone has anything to say, questions, comments, call me an idiot, please do.
     
  4. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    First, you SHOULD NOT go back to the job site to remove the HVAC equipment which you installed because that would be theft (probably, "grand theft") and/or trespassing and result in very sad consequences for you -- the Dry Cleaning establishment (or, the actual building owner from whom the business may be leasing the building) paid for the equipment & therefore owns it.

    I supposed it may be an unwarranted presumption to suppose that you were working-off-the-books ...
    FWIW. I believe your legal option is a suit in Small Claims Court ... your agreement was undoubtedly verbal ... having nothing in writing makes your case problematic.

    I don't know what the backlog of cases is ... it could be many months before your case is ajudicated.
    Regardless, you need to take a few deep breaths AND cool your jets ... and, just hope that the guy comes through with SOMETHING in the way of payment for your work, tomorrow ... or, sometime this week ... or, at least, before the NEXT snowfall in Houston!?!
     
  5. genedan

    genedan New Member

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    [​IMG]
    ...hey, it snows more often in Houston than you think
     
  6. cyberlegend1994

    cyberlegend1994 Moderator

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    I was in a similar predicament several years ago, and it turned out someone I worked with on a site at the time was finishing law school, he told me that a Mechanics' Lien needs to be filed at the Registry of Deeds having jurisdiction over the site, and depending on your state's statutes of limitations, there may be a time limit on doing that - here in MA it's 90 days from completion of the job.

    * EDIT * for additional info:
    I did a Bing search and found this article on filing a Mechanics' Lien.

    Additional note #2:
    NEVER do side work for friends...
     
  7. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    Thanks for the replies but my jets can not be cooled at the moment, I'm like that movie, Man on Fire.

    I did not do work or so I thought was not side work for a friend. This guy was supposedly a legit company with a current contractors license as per him saying so. It was an employee, an ex-coworker of mine who in the beginning of me working with this guy was employed by this same hack guy, who gave him my number as they needed help. I asked more than a few times if his license was current but didn't check it out and that was my fault. And he paid me the first few times without question and not only my hourly wage but subcontract on the spot meaning as soon as the job was done (subcontract rate is $250-$300 for a coil change out, for example) and for the few hours I was getting paid subcontract for any specific change out job I was not on hourly rate but before we started working on the sub contract paying job that same day, say we were driving around doing other things such as service calls, and then directly after the sub job was complete, I was back on hourly so out of a 10 hour day in which a coil change out took maybe 3-4 hours, I received $300 for those 3-4 hours plus 6 hours hourly for the complete day. All hourly is paid at end of week as is the case with this one time of me not getting paid.

    Now the thing is the owner of the dry cleaning business can get into serious trouble for hiring a hack ( non licensed contractor) and he can be shut down via an inspector. Again, the operations manager of huge a/c company for whom the guy who owes me money used to work for said that once an inspector is out there, he will shut down the business and then I can put a lien in my name on the business. I have to wait until tomorrow for the City of Houston inspection and permits division to open but what I just said is what I need to find out for absolute.

    Now with all of that evidence I was thinking of going to the owner of dry cleaning business and telling him that I did not get paid and since he hired a hack, he is responsible for paying me, again, something that both other a/c companies said was correct. Then the owner of the dry cleaning business will have two options, get shut down and heftily fined for hiring a hack along with having to pay me and after re-evaluating things, he owes me over a grand as I did the electrical in which he was supposed to pay an extra $500 to this hack but did not, or he can grin and bare it and pay me and I'll walk away.

    I have to talk with this inspector first and see if that is a route I can take. Once I get all of this info and it looks good for me, then and only then will I be going to the dry cleaners to talk to owner and again, he'll either say go ahead and call an inspector ( calling my bluff) to which I'll have inspector on standby just waiting to show up and again, he'll get a hefty fine and get shut down thus losing a lot of business ( not to mention all customers will know what has happened and that's never good) and none of his dozen employees will be getting paid either for the time off plus he'll have to pay me or he can just pay me and I'll walk away, no headaches for anyone any longer.

    I will also add this, the grand total of this job was chump change comparatively, $8500. That is practically free as similar jobs, same tonnage ( 2 systems @ 5 tons each system so 10 tons total) go for an easy $15,000. It is well known that even $15,000 is a steal, it can easily cost upwards of $20,000. What I'm getting at is that if the owner knows that as I will tell him, he should have less to worry about as in him now having to pay a total of around $10,000 instead of the original $8,500 agreed upon or at least anyone else could see that it's still the better alternative to being shut down and fined.

    So as it stands, the owner can pay me and have no troubles with inspectors or being shut down and fines, or we can go the legal route and he can be screwed.

    Not to mention all of this will be reported to the BBB if we go the inspection route.

    I'll wait until Monday to see if this a/c guy pays me but that'll take some serious effort on my part as I really want to go and take out my electrical and return the parts so as to get even just a few hundred dollars. That 100 amp breaker in the sub panel, being fed by the 400 amp service, is over $100 alone plus the three lug main connect that was not used is about $20 and then there are the other breakers for the single phase air handlers yadday yadda yadda. Too damn bad I drilled a 1" hole in the side of the new sub panel to run 2 awt wire thru to feed it from the main service or else that's $300. I could probably still sell that as is for $100 to an electrician as it's workable and still new.

    Eh, I definitely do not want to get busted for theft but again, if the guy calls the police, the inspector will say that I have that right, it's my work even if I did not pay for the equipment and let me just say that it really was my work, I did most of that job single handedly, all electrical as in running pipe to units and pulling the wire through the pipes and mounting the sub panel along with running all duct work and drain lines. The hack welded in the copper linesets and started the units up and it was him that tapped into the main lugs on the main 400 amp service after I set the wire to it, and I tied into the new sub panel, adding the 100 amp main feed breaker ( acts like a main breaker for new sub panel) along with two new 50 amp single throw breakers for the condensors and I added the two single pole 15 amp breakers in the existing single phase panel for the air handlers, wiring them in as well.

    Thank you all for the replies and please add anything you like, questions, comments, concerns, things I should look out for, anything.

    Preston.


    PS, I'm also going to get the serial and model numbers of all of the equipment installed and find out who this guy is getting his equipment from as that is not legal and whomever is supplying equipment to this hack is gonna be in serious trouble as in another a/c company is doing it, no doubt, and they will be shut down and heftily fined as well.
     
  8. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    I just thought of something, the owner can not call the police because none of the work is legit, he'll get instantly busted on the spot.

    Either way, this hack guy is going back to prison. He is on parole and any violation, if he looks at someone wrong, he's back in. And I didn't want to say anything before but i will now, that same a/c company that he used to work for he tried to rip off. The operations manager told me last night that this hack guy ordered a $1700 16 SEER condensor (that's high quality equipment) through a supply house and attempted to put it under this main companies account, the one he used to work for , through a made up/false PO. After the main a/c company checked their monthly invoices and found out that they had no such job and no such PO, they got to the bottom of it, refusing to pay for that condensor. So now the hack guy is also wanted by a supply house for theft. Gee, I wonder how long he'll be back in prison for with all of this on his head cause albeit I'm not sure what the amount is, I do believe it to be anything over $500 is grand theft and a felony, so not only did he violate parole on many accounts, he's now committed another felony.

    Man, I'm a phucking idiot and everyone has the right to say so.
     
  9. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    One owner of an a/c company, the one I used to work for, was so pissed off about all of this that he told me to "Go phucking bash his head in with a phucking crowbar and make sure you do it in the middle of a road so you can then run him over with your truck a few times and then set his listless, worthless existance of a body on fire."

    I had to laugh at that cause that is something the old me has already done, beaten the dog snot out of people who have done me wrong and with such brutality that I can't even believe I was capable of such an act, but that was ten years ago and I feel really badly for hurting those people I've beaten without remorse back then and I've since asked God for forgiveness for all things in my past and I do believe I'm in his good graces, finally. Now it wouldn't solve anything other than land me in prison and I still wouldn't get my money.

    Damn, I grew up.
     
  10. cyberlegend1994

    cyberlegend1994 Moderator

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    That may vary from state to state, in MA it's $250 so check your state's laws.

    Actually, non-payment for services performed is a civil matter so the police usually won't get involved in that. However, if the client paid with a worthless instrument (phony check, NSF or closed account) that can be construed as a form of larceny.
     
  11. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    The owner of dry cleaning business has paid this hack guy, my 'boss', in full. 'Boss' has not paid me. I just called owner of dry cleaners to which he started screaming over the phone " You threatening me?" to which I tried to say no, I am just trying to inform you of what is happening. He kept at it, raising his voice and I finally had it, hollering, "Listen you sorry phuck, I'm not threatening you so quit phucking hollering at me you sorry phuck!." and hung up on him. Needless to say the a/c hack guy was informed by owner of dry cleaning business and now he's threatening me, asking for my address so as he can send me my check. Bull****, one of his texts was saying for me to "Duck, you're a target." I replied "Thanks for the evidence, phone is being turned over to police."

    I just called the police and they are on their way.

    More to come.
     
  12. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Did you work as a independent contractor or were you considered an employee. If I missed this somewhere in the previous posts I apologize.
    Employers are required to post pay days and pay on those designated time. Federal law dictates this.
     
  13. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    For the record, I know that it snows in Houston ... I don't know how frequently, but it seems that many of those occasions seem to make the national news at least once per Winter ...

    I was/am hoping that the OP received his payment in the next few months ...

    Unfortunately, "late payment" is not as unusual as the OP apparently thinks.
     
  14. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, you are/(have been) approaching this the wrong way, IMO.

    If YOU thought the guy was an honest contractor with a valid business license, there is no doubt that the Dry Cleaning business possibly/probably thought so, too ... OR, he could claim that is the case ... regardless of how much/little the job was going to cost.
    FYI. Sadly, not only is Justice blind, it is often seemingly unfair ... the same goes for City Councils & other governmental bodies ...

    When everything is weighed, BECAUSE THE DRY CLEANER IS GENERATING TAX REVENUES for the City/State/Feds, the Inspector & City Clerk's office will probably require the necessary inspection fees be paid & they may-or-may-not assess a minor fine ... and, the City Clerk will instruct the Dry Cleaner of the process for "work" that needs to be done in the City of Houston ... but, they probably won't close the business UNLESS there are other issues.
    Based on your conversation with the Dry Cleaner, if 'I' were the Dry Cleaner, 'I' would be contacting the City Clerk's office, ASAP, and advising them that 'I' was told that 'I' recently learned that there might be a problem with some work which was recently done on 'my' building ... and, that 'I' would preemptively ask them to send a City inspector to come out and certify the work ...

    The City would comply ... the City Clerk's office would probably recommend a licensed contractor ...
    Money would change hands, BUT not with you.
    Again, it is doubtful that the Dry Cleaner would be closed.
    AND, if the word isn't already on-the-street, it will become less likely that you will be hired by another contractor if you continue to escalate the situation regardless of how good your work product is ... it's just the way it is -- life isn't always fair.
    Based on what you seem to have said, if I were the Dry Cleaning business, at this point I would certainly not let you look at the equipment ... I would not even acknowledge knowing who you are despite a "text message" left on your phone ... if/when asked, I would say that you look a little familiar and that you may have been that guy who comes in to panhandle every now and then OR something equally vague!

    I guess if it got UGLIER (!), that if I were the Dry Cleaner, then I would suggest to you that the IRS & Texas Treasury Department (whatever they are called) might be interested in looking at YOUR past Returns for the past several years to see if YOU have been reporting a realistic income ...
    Think "glass houses" ...

    THIS is akin to the apparent problem which sub-contractors who are illegal aliens must contend with.
    As difficult as it may be (if it isn't too late!?!), TRY to talk to the guy who owes you money a little more reasonably instead of spewing as if you were a cyclist-from-Tucson (sic) ... what a person can get away with in this Forum doesn't necessarily fly in the real world unless a a bunch of mob goons are in the wings & ready to act as enforcers.

    BTW. If you aren't, then you should probably be upset with the ex-coworker, too.

    BTW2. The BBB can probably be thought of as a bad joke ... it appears to be more of a scam to get money from small businesses than a protector for consumers.

    That's my 2ยข ... I hope things get sorted out & that you get your money.
     
  15. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    There is a ring of Indian/Pakistani guys who own stores, from dry cleaning business' to gas stations who use this hack for everything, home and business. They know he is not licensed as they want things done cheap and that's this guys territory.

    I'm currently waiting on a civil attorney to call me back in regards to info of whether or not I have the right, with or without police but either way I would like to do this legally, to go and take out my electrical. The owner did not pay for electrical additional charges which he was supposed to per 'contract' and I have all receipts from electrical supply house so if I can legally go and take out my equipment, I'm doing that.

    Secondly, I have called both the electrical and mechanical inspectors office and told them what I did, my scope of work involved and my dilema. Yes, I can get into trouble for working for an unlicensed contractor BUT was told to anonymously call in the inspection. $2000 fine off the bat, either to business owner or to hack or both and btw, all handwritten contracts (no business name or address on printed three part contract forms) are illegal and owner should have known this as he is a business man himself, building a Chevron from the ground up so again, I'm certain he knows that this guy is not licensed.

    side note, City inspectors do not have the authority to shut down a business, only hand out fines.

    Owner will then have to pay two individual companies, one for electrical and one for mechanical, to pull permits and get inspections. That will not be cheap on his part.

    Thirdly, I have contacted the a/c supply house that this hack stole a condensor from and told them my situation in regards to this guy and that I'll give up this hack, address and all, first thing within two days. The supply house has already called the police some weeks ago so I'm guessing he'll just pass on the info.

    Then, I'll be working only for one company again unless this other one who this hack was attempting to charge said condensor to hires me. The operations manager seems nice and is trying to help me find a route so as I can get paid and I told him that I'm coming to work for him and that I won't take no for an answer. :)
     
  16. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    I have also called Century A/C Supply, where this hack is buying his new a/c equipment, and informed them that the cash account that said hack is using to buy equipment needs to be investigated, an a/c company. I found out the name of supposed company and checked on Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations and no licensee number exists under said company.

    No longer will he be able to purchase equipment as I'm certain that the account will be closed as soon as the supply house checks on it and the state will be informed of all actions.
     
  17. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    He pays cash. Turns out the guy is all cash. The guys he does plenty of work for, Indian store owners and about five or six of them with up to ten stores a piece from gas stations to dry cleaners plus their homes, pay him in cash and then in turn he is supposed to pay us 'employees'. All of it turned out to be illegitimate.

    I was expecting a 1099 so as to pay taxes at the end of this year. Hmppfff, I most certainly feel as if I just fell off the turnip truck this morning.
     
  18. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    He avoids workers comp insurance, matching SS taxes and probably has no liability insurance.


    I would advise that you create a log of hours worked, mileage, expenses etc. Since you were treated an an independent contractor you are entitled to count business expenses and you may also need this information as proof if you file a claim.
     
  19. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    Via Century A/C Supply just now, "As long as said company gives blessing, anyone can buy equipment under their license number."

    They are checking on it but as it stands the account was formed in 1996 and is currently valid but they have to check on the license validation, if current or not.


    damn, I'm gonna get the short end of this stick. it's looking as if all I can do is report to the inspections department and have business and/or hack fined and then count my losses and move forward.
     
  20. roadhouse

    roadhouse New Member

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    I've kept track of all hours and he paid me johnny on the spot for last weeks work, hourly plus subcontract rate. There is pretty much nothing I can do other than walk away while still hoping he comes through with at least some of my money.

    In the end, I will turn in his address to supply house and he'll go back to prison and that's about all I can do.
     
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