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  1. #1
    michelletx is offline Member
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    What Can I Do if This Guy Refuses Certified Letter Notice?

    What is the name of your state? Texas

    Hi, all! I'm glad I've found this site. I've been doing a bit of searching, but haven't found this problem addressed as of yet.

    As simply as possibly--my DH and I are self-employed technical writers. We have done a fourth job for a client (who is also located in Texas, if that makes any difference, but in another city), and said client now refuses to pay the final balance on his invoice, as per his work agreement and as per the invoices sent to him.

    Said client says he is refusing payment because we did not complete several forms on the project on which we were working for him. However, our work agreement (as did our previous work agreements with him) states that we do not complete such forms. Also, we did not complete similar forms or portions on the other three projects we did for him and for which he paid us in a timely manner.

    For what it's worth, our work agreement form has been reviewed by and approved by a local attorney.

    So, as the start to the small claims process, I have sent said client a certified letter, return receipt requested, demanding payment within 10 days of receipt of said letter (as per Texas law) or we would begin legal proceedings.

    I checked on the status of delivery of this notice, and it seems he is refusing to accept the letter, and usps.com says while they will attempt re-delivery, if it is not accepted it will be returned to me.

    So what are my legal choices if the client (or, I should say, former client) refuses to accept the certified notice?
  2. #2
    racer72 is offline Senior Member
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    So what are my legal choices if the client (or, I should say, former client) refuses to accept the certified notice?
    File a lawsuit against the former client.
    If you feel my answer is rude, mean, snarky or in anyway not to your liking, I did my job. You don't need to tell me.

    No private messages, I do not reply to them.
  3. #3
    michelletx is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by racer72 View Post
    File a lawsuit against the former client.
    Racer, thank you so much, but I need a bit more elucidation, please...do you mean file a lawsuit through civil court? I'm trying to file a lawsuit through Small Claims, but I'm stymied about that if he doesn't respond to the certified letter, as it is my understanding that I must give written notice via certified letter, return receipt, before I can proceed with filing suit.
    Last edited by michelletx; 09-17-2007 at 11:02 PM. Reason: Added clarification
  4. #4
    michelletx is offline Member
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    For the benefit of anyone else who may be in this predicament--according to my local courthouse, if he refuses the certified letter, once it's returned to me, I simply take it down to the courthouse, show the letter as being refused, and then I can proceed with filing suit.

    Thanks!
  5. #5
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by michelletx View Post
    For the benefit of anyone else who may be in this predicament--according to my local courthouse, if he refuses the certified letter, once it's returned to me, I simply take it down to the courthouse, show the letter as being refused, and then I can proceed with filing suit.

    Thanks!
    Ummm...that's what Racer said
  6. #6
    JustAPal00 is offline Senior Member
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Zigner View Post
    Ummm...that's what Racer said
    Ummmm....no it wasn't. He said, and I quote "File a lawsuit against the former client."
    If you want to split hairs, split them all!!!!!
  7. #7
    michelletx is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zigner View Post
    Ummm...that's what Racer said
    Well, that may well have been what Racer meant, but I did not understand the response as such...my understanding was that notice had to be served by certified letter...if the certified letter is refused, I had no idea whether or not I could still file suit. Had Racer further specified "if you provide proof that the certified letter has been refused, you can still file suit," I would have understood more clearly.

    It just wasn't clear to me what Racer meant, that's all.
  8. #8
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    Send the letter by regular mail. He just might show up in court.
  9. #9
    michelletx is offline Member
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    Thanks, Ginny..this isn't the notice of a court date and time, though, it's the letter stating that if he doesn't pay within 10 days of receipt, I will pursue the matter through the courts (which will be my next step, once the letter is returned to me).
  10. #10
    dcatz is offline Senior Member
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    I don't want to seem to divert this thread, if there is more to be accomplished, but you said in a response in another thread that you had taken two SC judgments already and couldn't enforce them.

    Moreover, you said that they were against companies, and that made them harder to enforce than if they were against individuals. I would expect the opposite to be true, especially in debtor-friendly TX.

    Since it appears that you're about to go into SC again, if you'd care to add it to the thread, may I ask what you did to enforce the other judgments and why those efforts failed?
  11. #11
    michelletx is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcatz View Post
    I don't want to seem to divert this thread, if there is more to be accomplished, but you said in a response in another thread that you had taken two SC judgments already and couldn't enforce them.

    Moreover, you said that they were against companies, and that made them harder to enforce than if they were against individuals. I would expect the opposite to be true, especially in debtor-friendly TX.

    Since it appears that you're about to go into SC again, if you'd care to add it to the thread, may I ask what you did to enforce the other judgments and why those efforts failed?
    dcatz, no worries, divert away. I appreciate the question, maybe someone else with more knowledge knows of something we haven't done.

    Let's see...the other two SC judgments we won were against companies who were out-of-state...one was Washington, DC and off the top of my head, I can't remember the other state exactly, but I believe it was California (this was several years ago). We did the CC, RRR notice, proceeded to court, was awarded judgment (they didn't even show), and then had it all filed at our courthouse AND at the courthouses in the counties where these companies were based.

    But, we never received any payments from either. We turned to debt collection companies to see if they would assist, but they said as these were companies (small companies, I believe both were incorporated, though), they couldn't/wouldn't do anything. And once again, as it was companies we were dealing with, we couldn't attempt to garnish any wages or payments. Our only hope is that, as these two companies deal with government contracting, the judgment listed against them may give a Contracting Officer pause before awarding a contract.

    So why are we willing to go to SC again? Well, for one thing, this guy is located in Texas and does business primarily in Texas (with primarily commercial firms; he's expanding into federal government contracting), and as we are also based in Texas, we're hoping that will put a bit of a scare into him. (As an aside, the very first company we ever sued was in Texas; this guy had his lawyer call us; we gave the lawyer the documentation he requested; and the lawyer told the guy to pay up...it never made it to court.) And also, this man has ticked us off royally and the only recourse open to us is SC. And lastly, this gentleman, I know, gets irate and is more than willing to meet his adversaries in court--which we would dearly love for him to do and are hoping he will do in our case, as we're quite confident that we've fulfilled our obligations to him, both through established precedent in the three jobs we did with him before the job in dispute, and also through all of our back-up documentation.

    However, if he doesn't show up in court (whenever that may be), or even if he does, and we win (of which I'm confident), I don't know what we'll do for recourse if he opts not to pay.
  12. #12
    SHORTY LONG is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by michelletx View Post
    dcatz, no worries, divert away. I appreciate the question, maybe someone else with more knowledge knows of something we haven't done.

    Let's see...the other two SC judgments we won were against companies who were out-of-state...one was Washington, DC and off the top of my head, I can't remember the other state exactly, but I believe it was California (this was several years ago). We did the CC, RRR notice, proceeded to court, was awarded judgment (they didn't even show), and then had it all filed at our courthouse AND at the courthouses in the counties where these companies were based.

    But, we never received any payments from either. We turned to debt collection companies to see if they would assist, but they said as these were companies (small companies, I believe both were incorporated, though), they couldn't/wouldn't do anything. And once again, as it was companies we were dealing with, we couldn't attempt to garnish any wages or payments. Our only hope is that, as these two companies deal with government contracting, the judgment listed against them may give a Contracting Officer pause before awarding a contract.

    So why are we willing to go to SC again? Well, for one thing, this guy is located in Texas and does business primarily in Texas (with primarily commercial firms; he's expanding into federal government contracting), and as we are also based in Texas, we're hoping that will put a bit of a scare into him. (As an aside, the very first company we ever sued was in Texas; this guy had his lawyer call us; we gave the lawyer the documentation he requested; and the lawyer told the guy to pay up...it never made it to court.) And also, this man has ticked us off royally and the only recourse open to us is SC. And lastly, this gentleman, I know, gets irate and is more than willing to meet his adversaries in court--which we would dearly love for him to do and are hoping he will do in our case, as we're quite confident that we've fulfilled our obligations to him, both through established precedent in the three jobs we did with him before the job in dispute, and also through all of our back-up documentation.

    However, if he doesn't show up in court (whenever that may be), or even if he does, and we win (of which I'm confident), I don't know what we'll do for recourse if he opts not to pay.
    Dimwit, you are being given that best free advice, and it is biting on your ass!
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  13. #13
    dcatz is offline Senior Member
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    and then had it all filed at our courthouse AND at the courthouses in the counties where these companies were based.
    Did you actually domesticate the judgments in both states?

    We turned to debt collection companies to see if they would assist, but they said as these were companies (small companies, I believe both were incorporated, though), they couldn't/wouldn't do anything.
    Something is wrong there. I don't know what it is - they didn't know enough, the judgments weren't big enough to expend effort or what - but if you domesticated, the enforcement options should be greater, not fewer, than with an individual, certainly in CA, which has the most expansive enforcement statutes of any state.

    And, all other things being equal, your options against an active company should be greater than for an individual in any state.

    If you choose to, confirm domestication, the judgment amounts and the nature of the businesses - what do they do and is it exclusively government work - and I'll try to provide some suggestions and possibly resources.
  14. #14
    michelletx is offline Member
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    dkatz, thanks...and if, by "domesticate" both judgments, you mean having them filed on record at the respective courthouses where the businesses were registered, then yes, I am sure...I remember, in each case, there was an additional form (and fee) and then the processors had the judgments filed on record at the courthouse. I'm not positive the other company was in California, but I think so; I can certainly double-check my records, though. I'll check next week on the specific amounts and the companies and see if they are still in business...this was several years ago and I just ended up putting the folders into storage boxes (which I'll have to dig out...I think I have most of those records stored off-site now) and trudged on...I do remember that one of the amounts was around $2,000 or so (that's the basic amount, not including the fees, etc.), and to the best of my recollection, both companies were pretty much, if not exclusively, doing work for federal (and possibly state) government. As part of our work with these companies, we generally receive at least a partial, if not complete, list of their customers and company background, so I can review that info. (And, of course, state and federal contract awards are a matter of public record.)

    As for the current dispute (which has yet to go into the filing phase, as I'm waiting for the CC to either be received or returned, which at either point I can then file), the company primarily works with other businesses within the state of Texas, although the company has recently been awarded a contract with either the federal government or the state of Texas.

    Thanks very much, dkatz!

    ShortyLong...ummm....I'm not quite sure how to take your comment or how you meant it.
  15. #15
    dcatz is offline Senior Member
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    I donít want you to dig into long-buried archives. If you have the time and opportunity, thatís your choice.

    And when I asked about the kind of work that they did, the question was directed to the specific product or service that they provide. Knowing whether a company is a retailer, manufacturer, service provider, in what they trade and who the customers are (public or private sector) can do much to direct and dictate what enforcement methods are available and most effective.

    In general terms domestication refers to making one stateís judgment an enforceable judgment in another state, and itís done by turning your TX judgment into e.g. a CA or WA judgment. Again in general terms, itís accomplished by filing either a registered or certified copy of your judgment in the appropriate court of the sister-state and serving notice of that filing on the judgment debtor. In effect, it is a new suit and the notice is tantamount to a Summons, allowing the judgment debtor a statutory time Ė e.g. 30 days Ė to respond. However, it is not a re-trial on the merits. The judgment debtor can only assert defenses that would have been procedural or jurisdictional defense in the first trial Ė e.g. an expired SOL or lack of jurisdiction by the court.

    If no response is made (which is usually the case) or if no meritorious response is made, the TX judgment becomes a WA judgment as well, and can be enforced in either state.

    Now I mention this because you can file just about anything with a County Recorder in another state, as long as you pay the proper fee. It may not mean anything except that it is recorded. In the case of recording a judgment, no legal rights are created (and, candidly, it would be a waste of money and time).

    Your description of the process that you followed sounds like some hybrid between domesticating and recording. However, if you didnít domesticate, that could be one reason why the collection agencies lacked all of the powers that they might have otherwise had. (Also, as I said before, they may just not have been very good).

    Tell me what you find or remember about the process followed and the product or service the debtors market, and Iíll see if I can give you some suggestions that are more productive that putting the judgments in storage boxes.

    One of several ways in CA would be to get an Assignment Order, which allows collection of federal wages that would not be subject to a normal wage garnishment. An Assignment Order in any state allows you to have debtors of the debtor (individuals or entities owing money to the judgment debtor) to pay them directly to the judgment creditor (you).

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