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small claims court the next step?
Old 11-02-2018, 07:53 AM   #1
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small claims court the next step?

I worked contract this summer until August 27.
I was paid for that day's work, but not the previous week.


My one-page contract stated I was to be paid every week.


It now is 60+ days, and I am still owed $1300+ for one week's work.


The employees there are still getting paid, but they are working "short" hours. I have no idea how reduced the "short" hours are.



I was told via email I would be paid the first week of November. This was back on October 8. I have no idea whether that means that is when I will receive the check or when it will be mailed out. Stupid me did not press for more precise dates.


I sent an email this Monday asking for an update, and it has been radio silence. I also left voicemails today Friday but there may not be anyone in the office due to the "short" hours.



This client was in Pennsylvania. I am in NJ.


I am contemplating filing in small claims court in PA. It will cost me about $140. The court tells me it is 60-days before the case will come up.


Should I file now or wait?
If I wait, how much longer do I wait?
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:04 AM   #2
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I suggest going this route if possible.
https://www.dli.pa.gov/Individuals/L...e-Payment.aspx
The state should back you on payment of wages.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:15 AM   #3
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Thank you.
Very interesting page.


I was not an employee.


I worked 1099.
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:11 AM   #4
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Sorry for your situation. Small Claims court is certainly an option, but even if you win, you might still find yourself chasing unicorns. Best wishes getting compensated, but keep expectations low.
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:41 AM   #5
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If they said first week of November, you'd certainly (in my mind) need to give it until Nov 7. When they said first week of November, they may not have been looking at the calendar and just meant first week, as in first 7 days.

In any case, you need to decide if the money/time/effort will be worth going to small claims court. You could win a judgment and they could just continue to ignore you - then what?

Was this computer/consulting work that you did for the client? What I'm getting at, is your background in software development? If it were me, and the client stiffed me like that, I would instead take the $140 in court costs, and purchase the domain {Customer}Sucks.com or some variant, post a copy of your contract, a history of what's taken place including a copy of the email they sent to you saying you'd be paid first week of November, etc. I'd then reference the site all around the net so google picks it up, I'd post it in online forums where they advertise for consultants, I'd make a posting on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and so on.

When they ultimately come to you begging you to take it down and they'll pay you, you then advise them that they may purchase the domain from you if they like for $10,000.
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:14 PM   #6
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They've got enough money to be paying the 7 people on their staff.


My mother used small claims court once for a renter who skipped. She was able to garnish his wages.


How does small claims court force this company to pay me?



I'd even be happy if they split the money into smaller chunks to indicate good faith.


If I don't hear from them by November 9, I will certainly post on Glassdoor.com and on the forum where they advertised for people.




.
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njhowie View Post
In any case, you need to decide if the money/time/effort will be worth going to small claims court. You could win a judgment and they could just continue to ignore you - then what?
General remedies that I am vaguely aware of include:
- Garnishment of wages.
- Liens on assets (ie real estate)
- attach bank accounts

Is the client incorporated?

-gauss
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:33 PM   #8
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General remedies that I am vaguely aware of include:
- Garnishment of wages.
- Liens on assets (ie real estate)
- attach bank accounts

Is the client incorporated?

-gauss
I'd guess that these potential options will likely require more time/effort/money to get done, even with judgment in hand.
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by gauss View Post
General remedies that I am vaguely aware of include:
- Garnishment of wages.
- Liens on assets (ie real estate)
- attach bank accounts

Is the client incorporated?

-gauss

Yes.


Do I need a lawyer to attach bank accounts?
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:52 PM   #10
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" This client was in Pennsylvania. I am in NJ "

Where is the company you have a contract with registered in business ? Where was the contract executed ? Does the contract specify under what jurisdiction (State / county) legal claims must be adjudicated ?

Better to wait till November runs out. After that send a certified letter, return receipt to the owner, or an, officer if incorporated or an LLC, with demand to be paid. You would need this anyway in small claims.

My guess is you will spend over 40 hours and several hundred dollars attempting to get a judgement and collect in court.

In some states, getting a writ to collect is a separate court , and collecting is much more difficult than getting a judgement.

Sorry

If you plan to sue in court , skip the negative postings on social media IMHO.

PS , check my signature for my qualifications.
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Old 11-02-2018, 04:06 PM   #11
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So, most seem to be saying this will be a waste of my time and money.
$140 to start not to mention the tolls and tax which is another $20 to go to PA to file.


Maybe this is what they are counting on?
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Old 11-02-2018, 04:13 PM   #12
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I think you need to slow down. It's only November 2. Just be persistent in sending them follow up emails and phone calls. They may be having cash flow problems which means they are only paying the vendors that squawk the most, so you need the be the squeaky wheel now.
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Old 11-02-2018, 04:20 PM   #13
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If the labor dept has jurisdiction on your 1099 work , then they will do things administratively , great , you don't need to do anything else. However if not and you still want to pursue :

Time to research

Time, travel and $$$ to prep and file

$$ to have the lawsuit served ( many jurisdictions do not allow a party to the case to serve papers)

Time and Travel to court , and maybe a second trip if defendant requests postponement.

$$$$$Having to hire an atty to defend yourself if the defendant files an answer and cross complaint in regular court .

Trying to collect, assuming you win.

If you have time on your hands and want to invest that time learning how things really work out in the legal system, not theory , it may be worth the effort just for the knowledge.
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Old 11-02-2018, 05:00 PM   #14
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Not sure how it works now, but awhile back when my BIL was in small claims if you won you got your filing fee etc.


Also, and this was decades ago, when my dad won in court he could pay to send out a sheriff to confiscate their assets... that usually got them to pay pretty quickly...


I would also read up on if you can sue in your state and if so what remedies you have in another state...





Last point for me... just because you are 1099 does not mean it cannot go through the labor board or whatever state agency there is... they might do it unless there is a clear contract between you and the company...
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Old 11-02-2018, 05:22 PM   #15
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I think you need to slow down. It's only November 2. Just be persistent in sending them follow up emails and phone calls. They may be having cash flow problems which means they are only paying the vendors that squawk the most, so you need the be the squeaky wheel now.
How persistent is persistent? I am having problem with that.

Monday 10/26 email to finance guy; cc'd CEO
Friday 11/2 voicemails to both finance guy and CEO; finance apparently took vacation all week except Wednesday; CEO is sick and may not have been in the office

I will send email again on Tuesday 11/6 giving them Monday to respond.

Then what?
call every day?
email every day?

At what point is it considered pointless and go with small claims court?
.
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:28 PM   #16
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I don't think a small claims court in PA will have jurisdiction in NJ. If you get a judgement, and it is not paid, then you would have to put a judgement lien on some real assets and it would have to be recorded at the local county, and you would only get paid when it was sold. The whole process could cost more than $1300, and might take a while for that asset to be sold. And that is if they owned anything. They may rent their office space, and lease the office furniture, and the bank may own their company cars.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:05 PM   #17
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The company still has money in its bank account(s); otherwise the 7 people wouldn't be getting paid.

The company receives residuals because it sold "something" to another company.

The company is in PA, and I will be filing in PA if I decide to do that.
I live in NJ.

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Old 11-02-2018, 08:23 PM   #18
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From your info , the company is incorporated in PA ?

1. Get the corporation info from the secretary of state where they are incorporated and doing business. You must file against the exact corporate entity that you have a contract with.

2. Start researching the uniform commercial code , specifically as adopted by that state . this is assuming this is a contract issue, not a labor issue. Look for your Cause of Action ( why you are damaged ) . The court clerk can give you help filling out forms, however, cannot draft your complaint. You must do that yourself.

There is probably " Small claims for dummies" or similar book.

When you go to file, see if you can sit in the audience of some small claims trials.
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Old 11-02-2018, 09:40 PM   #19
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Just because you were paid as an independent contractor doesn't mean that you are, legally, an independent contractor. Wait until the 10th and if you are not paid call your local State wage collection board, ask them what they can do for you.

Do not do any more work for them until you are paid.
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Old 11-03-2018, 01:07 AM   #20
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How persistent is persistent? I am having problem with that.

Monday 10/26 email to finance guy; cc'd CEO
Friday 11/2 voicemails to both finance guy and CEO; finance apparently took vacation all week except Wednesday; CEO is sick and may not have been in the office

I will send email again on Tuesday 11/6 giving them Monday to respond.

Then what?
call every day?
email every day?

At what point is it considered pointless and go with small claims court?
.
I think Ready is correct. They're just managing cash flow. Just keep calling every day or emailing every day or both. Little work in that. I'll bet they will pay you before the end of the month. The small claims is still an option then.
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