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small claims court question

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? MN

I live in MN. Recently, I had a verbal agreement with a man who attends my parents church to repair footings on my four season porch. He has contracting experience, but he is not currently working in that field.
He came to my home to see what needed to be done, and asked for payment up front of $1300 (the total cost for repairing and replacing 6 footings), this was on 11-3-08. We agreed he would come on the following Friday to start the work at 7 AM. He did not show up, I called him at 9 AM and left him a message wondering what happened. He called me back an hour later saying he is stopping at Menards for materials and he is on his his way. He did not come.
Saturday he called and said he was coming, and would dig the holes and leave that room on temporary posts for one week. I told him, as I have small children that go into that room, that I did not want the house left up on the temporary poles that long and to come in a the following Friday to start the work.
I called him a few times between Monday and Wednesday, so I could obtain details for how much cement to order.
He called me on Thursday asking for more money to pay for the temporary poles (even though I told him I already own some).
Then he stopped returning my phone calls. I decided it was time to stop wasting time as winter is coming and ask for my money back. When I contacted some of his family members, he did call me back and told me we had a contract (of which we do not as I have not signed anything with him except for the check). I asked him for my money back, he said he spent it and he would see me in court.
He did give me a paper when he came over for the estimate. He hand wrote that he was repairing footings on the four season porch with the $1300 paid and he signed it.
He then called me that Sunday to tell me he would meet with me on the following Friday to return my money. He called me the day we were supposed to meet and told me he spoke to a lawyer who said he is entitled to keep my money. There was no contract. I have a witness who heard everything he said when he came to my house the first time.
Does this case have any chance to win in court?
Thank you for your time.:)
Last edited:

Gail in Georgia

Senior Member
It's doubtful this deadbeat spoke with any lawyer.

You do have a contract...of sorts. The paper he signed indicating you paid him for work he has, yet, not done.

You are further ahead that most folks who have only verbal contracts with deadbeats who are paid but don't show up to do the work.

I'd say you have a fairly good chance of winning this in court.

Next time do NOT pay for work up front.


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