What is the name of your state? Minnesota
I hired a contractor on 9/7/06 to build a stained glass studio for me in our 30' x 30' area above our garage. I gave him $4,400 at that time for him to purchase the materials.
Our agreement, according to the contract, was that after the framing was up, I give him another $1,942 once the floor and walls are framed, with a balance of $1,942 due upon completion of the project, totalling $8,284. He gave us a verbal construction completion date of 11/1/06 (unfortunately, looking at the contract now, that date is not in writing).
He worked feverishly for two weeks (he does excellent work), installing the plywood flooring, putting up the framing; and then brought in the electrician to complete all of the electrical.
Per our agreement, I paid him the additional $1,942, after which time, he didn't come around any more to do any further work.
After two months of no-show and no returned phone calls, I called him today and left a message that he left me no further option but to go down to the courthouse on Monday to file charges.
Minnesota's current Small Claims court limit is $7,500. Since we've already paid him $6,342, and I don't want to pay any more than I have to in attorney fees, this is one way I can take this case.
However, I looked at the Hennepin County site for details and it states:
"You should consider whether the person you are suing (the defendant) would be able to pay you. Although you may win your case, Conciliation Court (also known as Small Claims Court) is not a collection agency. See What to Do if You Win a Judgment for further information."
So I clicked the link to see what to do if you win a judgement and read the following:
"Conciliation court is not a collection agency and cannot assist you in locating assets.
You need to collect the judgment yourself. When you win your case, collecting a judgment is not always easy. You cannot collect assets that a debtor does not have. The collection process will work only if you can locate collectable assets."
Judgments last for 10 years
A judgment lasts for ten (10) years after it is finalized, and you may try to collect the amount owed from the debtor's assets during that time. You may renew the judgment if you have not collected the amount owed within the ten year period.
Enforce a Judgment
The judgment Notice will have a date for the "statutory stay period" and once that date expires, if you have not been paid or if an appeal has not been filed, you may begin the steps to enforce the judgment. Click Transcribing the judgment to District Court to learn more about this process. After the Conciliation Court transcript is prepared, all the paperwork will be sent to Civil Filing in District Court. "
I know this guy doesn't have any money in savings and if he gambled our money away, which is what I suspect, it looks like I would have to wait 10 years before I can take the judgement from the Small Claims court to Civil Court.
He has done other work for us, as well as for my neighbor, with no problems. He's always treated us fairly and seems like a great guy, so although he's not licensed, I felt confident that he would do a great job for us. I know, I know. Not licensed. If he were licensed, yes, I could go through all the steps to put a bad mark on his business name, but this is not his main business. He has no official "business" name. All I knew was that he did great work. And what he DID do for us IS great!
After all this time, my neighbor called his ex-sister-in-law and she was informed that he had taken money from her neighbor to do some gutter work and never came back or completed that job. They took him to small claims, but he never showed up for that.
So, here are my questions:
1. If I take him to small claims and he doesn't show up, what then?
2. If I don't do the small claims, and I hire an attorney, do I take him to "Civil court"?
- Would this be a better way of getting my money back from him?
-He has a full-time job. If I take him to civil court, would they be able to tag his wages from his full-time job in order to pay me back?
-I don't know the name of the company he works for. Is there a way to find this out?
I'm presuming that he won't be very cooperative, or even show up for ANY court date, regardless of the type of suit I bring against him.
What are my options?