+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1
    schwinn is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    10

    What does it mean to "vacate" a ruling?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Massachusetts

    I lost my small claims case against my oil company in a baffling way, even after appeal. I don't want to get into the details here, as that is not my question.

    I was plaintiff, and I lost the case. I hear I am able to "vacate" the ruling.

    What does it mean to "vacate" it? More specifically:
    1) Does this mean I can bring the case back up again? Does it reopen my options (I don't believe I have any options right now, since the appeal is what really screwed me?)
    2) What sort of reasoning is needed to vacate? In other words, do I need to cite specific rules that were broken, or simply restate the merits of my case?
  2. #2
    Dave1952 is offline Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    824
    I'm not going to research Mass. law but I think you have about 30 days after a ruling is entered to file a motion to vacate. Your small claims case is probably well past any time limit. Your appeal may not be.
    Since a motion to vacate is a request to the judge who heard the case and made the ruling to reconsider, just repeating your old claims is pointless. He heard those and ruled already.
    Since you are "baffled" it may be time to find a lawyer or a new hobby


    Good luck
  3. #3
    schwinn is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    10
    Small claims is 1 year to vacate, according to the forms.

    This was the result after the appeal, so there is no other action I can take, it seems.

    No lawyer was willing to take the case, for whatever reason. They felt it wasn't worth their time or my money to defend me.

    The facts were clear - I was billed for a contract that didn't exist, and that's why I was fighting it. I could go into the details if you wish, just for entertainment value... but I don't want to bore anyone.

    What baffles me is that rules of process were broken, and my case was basically ignored. (Defendant lied, under oath; defense never showed up for the first court date, yet this was reversed and the fee for allowing the reversal (1-day's pay to me) was eliminated for no reason; defense claims to have a contract for service, but cannot produce one...how am I supposed to produce a "non-contract"?)

    I am thinking that "finding a new hobby" might be my only option, but it really bugs me that basic logic doesn't apply here, that justice was not served, and that rules are not even followed... and no one cares.
  4. #4
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    I dunno. What time is it?
    Posts
    6,260
    I'm kind of confused.

    Why did you sue your oil company? You said that you were being charged for a contract that didn't exist. Why not simply ignore the bills?

    Why would you need a lawyer to defend you when you are the plaintiff?
  5. #5
    schwinn is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    10
    Longer story... please bear in mind I am cutting out some details and writing this from the top of my head for now. If you want a more detailed account, I can pull up my records and letters, as everything is clearly documented.

    The oil company was delivering oil to me at a fixed higher price through a group-deal (group of over 80 people) that was setup by a friend of mine, as I didn't want to screw them if I had a contract or something. I called them to see if we could work something out to reduce my price. They offered to cancel my old contract for a termination fee of $599.

    I was surprised about this, since I had never been told about any ETF. They claim they told me, and that it was in my signed contract. I told them I didn't remember any signed contract, yet they insisted they had one "in front of them" at the time of the call with my signature on it.

    They then forced me to make a decision quickly, as I had a delivery coming soon at the higher rate. Since I couldn't believe that I had signed something without remembering it, I asked them to immediately send me a copy via email or fax. I didn't take the offer because I had to check my records and "do some math" to make sure that paying $599 wasn't going to cost me more than in the longer run.

    That night, I check my records, and I had no record of it. The next day I called them again for a copy. I asked them to send it to me again, the apologized for not sending it, but that they had it in hand.

    My math told me to take the deal and so I called and paid the $599 to get out of the higher priced contract, as I had to believe them, since they repeatedly insisted they had it. For the next 3 months, I kept asking for their copy, and they never sent it to me and stopped returning any of my calls. I finally stopped paying my oil delivery bill so that the total would be less than the $599, since that was the amount under dispute. The finally started to return my calls, and when I finally got a copy of the contract, it had a "smiley face" on it asking me to sign it, but it wasn't signed - they lied to me the entire time.

    Throughout the next many months, they refused to refund any portion of that $599, claiming that they had a recorded call with me agreeing to it, and they claim to record ALL calls for this reason. I told them I would be happy to drop the matter if they can prove this ETF or contract. Again, they lied and could not produce any recorded call. So I took them to court to get my money back under consumer protection laws, since they lied to me repeatedly.

    On the first court visit, they didn't show up at all, so I won by default. On the second court visit (payment hearing) they started to go into the case, and the magistrate said that the defense was over - they lost and this was only a payment hearing. Apparently he had a death in his family, so he couldn't show up. Eventually, the magistrate accepted it (even though the magistrate even implied that they had no intention of showing up, as they could have sent someone else in his place, or rescheduled). The magistrate said he would reopen the case, if they were willing to pay my day's lost wages as a fee. They reluctantly agreed, and I had to present my case at that moment (good thing I came prepared).

    During this defense, in front of the magistrate, they lied again, stating that I agreed to the $599 termination fee. They brought a cassette tape of the call during the second contract, but weren't allowed to bring in the tape-player through security. So, they insisted that this call was on there (I got a copy of that tape later in the mail). The magistrate never listen to it. I also insisted that they repeatedly said they lied about having a signed contract and they never provided me with a copy.

    Judgement came in the mail, and the magistrate awarded me $200 of the $599 (no idea where they got that number from) plus the days-wages-fee.

    The oil company appealed, and we went to judge. During that case, I presented again that there was no enforceable contract - no recording, no paper copy, nothing... and that they lied to me about it all. Only until later did I find they had neither and lied to me about it. The defense then said that I had not paid for the oil deliveries recently, and made that the "case" in the judges eyes. I said that it was the only way they would talk to me about anything on the matter of the contract. The judge even asked me why I paid the ETF, implying that I shouldn't have, and I told him I had to do so in order to prevent further higher-priced oil deliveries (that they wouldn't put on hold), and that I paid it "on good faith" because they insisted they had a signed copy (and then later, a recorded call). The judge then actually said, and I quote, "I'm more concerned about not who lied, I'm more concerned about who paid what and who owed what." (Yes, I have the recorded court proceedings). Amazing.

    At the end of it all, the mailed judgment denied all my claims, created a countersuit for the defense forcing me to pay the unpaid oil bill, and deleted the days-lost-wages due to me - all without any mention of this from the defense in court, nor any paperwork filed.

    As this was the appeal, I cannot re-appeal it (I don't think?). So, I believe my only listed option is vacating the ruling... whatever that means. Bottom line, I don't know what my options are, which is why I am asking here. I'd ask a lawyer, but...

    As a note, before the hearing with the judge, I had tried to contact a lawyer to represent me, as I was already disgusted by the magistrate-result. Maybe I suck at presenting the case, but as an engineer I deal with facts, and I figured they would stand on their own. Yet, no lawyer (I called like 4 or 5 in my area) would take my case, as they said it wasn't worth their time or my money... I had only one lawyer who at least returned my call, and answered a few questions for free, but he wouldn't take the case.
  6. #6
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    I dunno. What time is it?
    Posts
    6,260
    It seems that the judge found that you agreed to pay the $599 early termination fee, and the oil company is entitled to keep it as an early termination fee. Even though you didn't agree ahead of time (in writing) that you would pay an early termination fee, you agreed to pay it when you sent in the payment.

    Now you owe them for the oil they delivered.

    It may not be fair, but it sounds like the judge, and not the magistrate, made the correct ruling of law.
  7. #7
    schwinn is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    10
    So, you're telling me that by paying it I accepted that it was real? How does that work? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of consumer protection laws?

    By your statement, you are implying that if I bought a product based on statements made by the seller, and then found it was not accurate, I still have no right to get my money back because I already paid for it? That doesn't make sense...
  8. #8
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    I dunno. What time is it?
    Posts
    6,260
    Quote Originally Posted by schwinn View Post
    So, you're telling me that by paying it I accepted that it was real? How does that work? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of consumer protection laws?

    By your statement, you are implying that if I bought a product based on statements made by the seller, and then found it was not accurate, I still have no right to get my money back because I already paid for it? That doesn't make sense...
    You knew when you paid the $599 that it was an early termination fee. Using your analogy, you looked at a product based on the statements made by the seller, found the statements were not accurate, but chose to buy it anyway. Afterwards, you tried to resort to self-help by getting even.

    Courts loath self help remedies, which is probably why the magistrate let it go, but not the judge.

    I agree that you got cheated by the oil company. The problem is that you tried to cheat them in return, after you had already agreed to pay them the early termination fee.
  9. #9
    schwinn is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    10
    Quote Originally Posted by Stevef View Post
    You knew when you paid the $599 that it was an early termination fee. Using your analogy, you looked at a product based on the statements made by the seller, found the statements were not accurate, but chose to buy it anyway. Afterwards, you tried to resort to self-help by getting even.

    Courts loath self help remedies, which is probably why the magistrate let it go, but not the judge.

    I agree that you got cheated by the oil company. The problem is that you tried to cheat them in return, after you had already agreed to pay them the early termination fee.
    I see your point... and I appreciate your continued statements, but I guess I'm not getting how this applies? The statements made by the seller were not proven inaccurate until AFTER I paid them. Yet this is my fault?

    To repeat the analogy, let's say I called the vendor to ask them whether their product had a certain feature, they repeatedly assured me it was there, yet it wasn't. So I wanted my money back. What's so wrong in that?
  10. #10
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    I dunno. What time is it?
    Posts
    6,260
    Quote Originally Posted by schwinn View Post
    The statements made by the seller were not proven inaccurate until AFTER I paid them.
    But the statement was that there was an agreement. You disputed the fact that there was a previous agreement, but formed an agreement when you paid them, making the previous agreement moot.
  11. #11
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    in the ether
    Posts
    34,042
    There are a couple problems that haven't been made clear. OP claims this:


    The oil company was delivering oil to me at a fixed higher price through a group-deal (group of over 80 people) that was setup by a friend of mine, as I didn't want to screw them if I had a contract or something. I called them to see if we could work something out to reduce my price. They offered to cancel my old contract for a termination fee of $599.
    which I don't quite understand but regardless, OP knows he had not entered into a contract so he couldn't possibly believe he needed to terminate some contract he claims he wasn't bound to.

    The OP's entire premise is flawed. Although he may not have entered into a contract, apparently "his friend" did. If OP accepted an assignment of the benefits of the contract, he also accepted the obligations of the contract which apparently included the ETF. Therefore, if the friend was obligated to the ETF, so now is OP.

    I disagree that the payment of the ETF somehow bound the OP to some none existent contract though. If a payment is in made in good faith that is was fulfilling the requirements of some already in place contract, it does not bind the person to some odd contract if there never was a contract in the first place that required the ETF. If that was the case, every errant payment to some provider of services made based on the providers claim it was due would never be recoverable. That simply is an incorrect argument.
    Last edited by justalayman; 12-10-2010 at 09:53 AM.

Similar Threads

  1. Threats to sue police and State for TASERING "ex" unwarrantedly prejudice ruling
    By newztome in forum Civil Rights & Discrimination Law
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-14-2010, 08:05 AM
  2. Qestion on 1992 Congress ruling of "Rule of 78" type Loans
    By eclipset in forum Banking & Credit Cards
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 01-20-2009, 03:53 PM
  3. Bought house in foreclosure - now lawyers for Owner want to "Vacate Sale"?
    By HoneyHany in forum Mortgages, Refinancing & Foreclosure
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 12-20-2007, 06:35 PM
  4. COURT RULING: "Gay Parents MUST Pay Child Support"
    By eyemback in forum Child Support
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 08-23-2005, 04:44 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

© 1995-2012 Advice Company, All Rights Reserved

FreeAdvice® has been providing millions of consumers with outstanding advice, free, since 1995. While not a substitute for personal advice from a licensed professional, it is available AS IS, subject to our Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions Of Use.