T Nation

Small Claims Court Questions


I'll try and make this short:

I paid a guy $220 bucks to notch a gas tank, seal it, and then make the bracket for it. It took too long, so I went and got a stock gas tank (he said that I should since I was a bit upset that this project was taking over a month to do) and he said he would give me my money back, because he was only 1/2 way done with it. Well, numerous emails and haven't gotten anything for over a month. I'm about to write a letter and send it certified mail to him requesting my money before I file a small claims court order.

Since I paid him in cash, there is no proof that I paid him, but I have an email that says that he sent me a check back for the amount he owed me, but I never received it (which I told him) and he never bothered to email me or send the check again (and cancel the other one). I have tried calling his phone numerous times and never got an answer.

Any ideas/thoughts would be appreciated.


Take him to court he can't deny you paid him if he's willing to give you a refund, and it's in an e-mail.



The weaknesses of your case are that you paid the guy in cash and had a verbal agreement for the return of your half-completed tank and your money. Do you have any independent means by which to connect the e-mail address you have for the guy to him or his business (i.e. business card, website, advertisements, etc.)? If you have this you are in good shape to get your money and/or any punitive assessments you may wish to pursue.

Punitive assessments may be more difficult to get (if you want to go for it) if you do not have an e-mail or something other than a verbal agreement that indicates that a timeframe was established. Or this guy could just be dumb enough to admit to making such an agreement when you are in court. You probably could get some punitive award based on the fact that the timeframe (over one month) within which the fellow was able to finish only half of the job was fairly unreasonable. At least you may be able to recoup your money and the cost of the stock gas tank, given the length of time that you were without your gas tank and the fact that you received it in only half-completed condition (thereby rendering it non-functional).

Your repeated e-mails to the guy should also help your case as they went unanswered.


If he sent you an email that said he was going to send you a check to pay you back, then:

  1. He has said he owes you money in an email.

  2. A check can be followed: if he wrote it, he can show documentation. If it has been cashed, he can show documentation that it has been cashed.

  3. If he can't show either, and he promised to pay you via your email, then go for it.


Thanks for all the replies.

I think I'll just send him a letter in the mail and have a tracking number showing I sent him a last notice type thing.

I do have the email headers on each email that I printed out and it shows his name right next to the email address.

I told him to cancel the check since I never got it (don't think he even sent it) and if he said he did send it, he would have to show proof that he did.

Thanks again for all the input :slightly_smiling:


If you send a certified letter then hope for the best that guy will actually go to the post office and pick it up. Going to court is sometimes a big waste of time and, yes even money.

Hopefully what happens is that at the first court date, he will not appear, therefore giving you the win. Do you know what you do after actually succeedeing though? You have to figure out how to get the money from the guy.

Hopefully he has a bank account, b/c he is given a form to fill out that lists his asstes and any accounts he has. MAKE sure he fills all that out.

After you get that info. from him, it is your job to find someone to take that money out of his account (it's legal!) And if he doesn't have an account of any sort, then you need to find someone to go to his house and they will take shit outta his house and auction it off and give you the money.

It's actually time consuming but you may want to let him know, that if you file, this will go on his credit record against him. I have a family memeber who has gone through this bs so I know too much about this. Good luck, man.



Thanks for all the help. When you say that I should make sure he fills out the form, do you mean go to his house and watch him fill it out? Or who sends the form with the bank account, etc.?

Also, when you say it will go on his credit report, does it go on his credit report after I win? Or if he doesn't pay up after I win?