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Broke the car out of body shop prison... how to get the money back??

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Thirdyfivepickup, Mar 15, 2014.

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  1. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member

    It's been a while since I've been on here but you guys and gals always had the answers... so here's a matter that's near to my heart.

    My father in law got hooked up with a small 1 man shop to repaint his 55 Jaguar. They agreed on a price and drew up an estimate. They agreed on a date the car would be finished but that was not written into the estimate.

    He dropped off the car and made the mistake of paying the body guy about 85% of the total before any work began...

    The guy partially disassembled the car and did some basic bondo work. The car has only 23,xxx miles on it and was really straight. Didn't need any welding or patch work.

    Well, as if this is a surprise to any of you... after 17 months the car is still in the same basic condition it was after month 2. For the last year my father in law has been trying to contact him a few times a week for updates... he rarely gets ahold of him.

    He brought a lawyer into it last October and the body guy agreed to finish it up by the first of the year. All the body guy managed to do was throw some more bondo on it and push it into a different spot in the shop.

    So now the car is back at home again... in pieces... and we want to take this ass bag to court. It's my guess that this joker didn't know what he was getting himself into before he took the job and once he started looking at it he realized he had no clue how to deal with this car. OR it needed a lot more work than he suspected and gave up. (he does have experience with MGs, later Jaguars and smaller European cars)

    Either way he promised a job and a finished date, was given the majority of the money, and failed to live up to his end of the contract.

    So what do we do? Legally... I took a bunch of pictures when we picked it up and we have the original estimate.

    We can get the car looked at by another shop and guesstimate how much work was actually done and get a price of what it would have cost to get it into the present condition and ask for all the money back except for what he did?

    Sue for the total money (around $10k) plus lawyer fees and court costs?

    Start a smear campaign on him and his business? Hire Vinnie and Guido to pay him a visit??

    The father in law is almost 70... Born in Germany and came to America by himself at the age of 13 not speaking any English. He's an amazing guy with a great story. He bought this car in 1963 and enjoyed it until he got married and started a family. Raised 3 great kids and worked until he retired and now wants to enjoy his baby...

    Any advice on what to do next to get the money back?
     
  2. unkledaddy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2006
    Posts: 2,864

    unkledaddy
    Member

    IMO the $10K is gone, and the money spent trying to recoup it could be spent better having a reputable body shop do the work.

    Even if you pursue it legally and win a settlement...............he may never pay.
    Your FIL needs it done somewhat soon if he's going to enjoy it.

    Others here will tell you to seek revenge, but remember you're on a public forum as far as
    expressing your sentiments. You don't want anything to come back and bite you in the ass!
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  3. Ahhhh this happens a lot with " restoration" shops. Does the guy doing the work have another job and this " shop" is a side project for him. Many times they take in more cars they can handle to pay the bills, get over their head, use the money on other cars, and yours is left to rot until they get another victim.
     
  4. Uptown83
    Joined: Apr 23, 2007
    Posts: 722

    Uptown83
    Member

    You always hear of these stories. I have no advice for you. Cant believe your father in law would pay someone that much up front for essentially just labor that hasnt been performed.

    I have experience suing people before and I even won but it seemed like in the end we both lost due to the lawyer fees.
     

  5. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,584

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL


    ^^^^^^probably the most realistic advice you will receive^^^^^^^

    Winning a judgment is quite a separate thing from actually getting paid.
    Unfortunate, but true.
     
  6. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member

    yeah, I wish I was more involved with this when it came to payment. My father in law is an honest straightforward guy. He's never been in debt and saw the bill as something he owed... and thought paying him the majority of it would ensure a good job.

    He's gullible like that. Still believes in the American dream...
     
  7. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member

    I thought about starting to spread his name around and tarnish his reputation but he has no internet presence as far as I can see... I've googled his shop name, phone number, his name... nothing... (which is also a little scary that the FIL went with him... it was a word of mouth deal by someone who had a car painted by him)

    His shop had another Jag (although a mid 70s model) and his portfolio showed some cars that helped him decide this was a good idea.
     
  8. caton462
    Joined: Jul 17, 2013
    Posts: 176

    caton462
    Member

    I would do my best to get the car finished else where. You are probably out the money any way you look at it even if you win a suit, the attorney will cost quit a bit. Might try Cooper's Body Shop at 7524 W Washington St. Indy. I have seen several cars they have done and will have them do one for me in the near future.
     
  9. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member

    At this point he has a friend who's a whiz with cars who's gonna help him put it back together. (and I'll lend a hand where I can)

    Painting it is gonna be a little difficult. He's out the majority of the money he had set aside to get this done. He doesn't want to have to shell out another $10k to finish it.

    I have a couple of friends who are painters but they've both been known to hold cars captive as well...

    Any painters/shop owners want to weigh in on this?
     
  10. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 5,891

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    I can't imagine walking away from the $10k, and I'm surprised that it's been recommended. I would either sue in small claims to get whatever that court allowed, or pay an attorney to go after the full amount, plus legal fees. I'm not sue happy, but in this case he needs to try to get everything he's due. I wouldn't worry about the small amount the shop did, as it wont offset the cost of reassembly, or future shop finishing the car.
    Yes, it might be tough collecting once it's done in court, but it wouldn't stop me from giving it a shot, and I wouldn't give up until I had it all back.
     
  11. Bigchuck
    Joined: Oct 23, 2007
    Posts: 1,141

    Bigchuck
    Member
    from Austin, TX

    Look for an attorney who is a car guy. Maybe he/she would go easy on the legal fees. Like said earlier, a judgment and securing payment are two different things.-Best of luck.
     
  12. I hate hearing this kind of story but it is not uncommon,if your state has a small claims court and you can recoup a portion of the money without lawyers entering the picture you would be wise to peruse that course of action.

    With lawyers fees and court cost you might end up more and any restitution could end up dragging out for several years. HRP
     
  13. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member


    He's retired and likes a challenge... most importantly he knows he was ripped off. He's as honest as the day is long... he will fight this guy as far as it goes... if he ends up not getting much back it will be worth it. Its the principle...
     
  14. dirty old man
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 8,689

    dirty old man
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My sentiments exactly, and my comments on my thoughts for actions possibly taken if payment isn't made after a judgement awarding same are not for publication.
     
  15. I think the point made earlier was that getting the car done for the father in law is most important. I went through a lawsuit over property (I know, not the same), was successful, but took over four years.
    I'd look into what the small claims laws are where you are. It might be easier to go for a smaller amount but have a better chance of winning and collecting.
    Whatever happens I sincerely wish your father in law will enjoy that car all completed.


    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
     
  16. unkledaddy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2006
    Posts: 2,864

    unkledaddy
    Member

    From the web;

    What happens if you actually win? Most people who get a judgment against another party never see a penny for it. The Orlando Sentinel reports that a Maryland law firm called The Judgement Group is now doing post-judgment collections for those who go through small claims court. They'll take on your claim for free and split any money they recover down the middle with you. That sure beats not getting the first nickel! Once again, this is currently only for Maryland residents.

    If you knew someone that can get his SS# you can send him his copy of a W-2 Form
    with inflated numbers. If it was indeed cash then he'll have to explain it to the IRS.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  17. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,094

    Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Member

    I wouldn't walk away easy from $10,000 stolen from an elderly relative.
    With 85% ($8500) paid up front, the guy had almost zero incentive to work on/finish the car. I'd bet that money bought paint, etc. to finish a couple of other cars that came through the shop after yours.

    We see this story repeat about every month here-and that's why guys like him can still operate.

    This is common with small time home remodelers. Take the down payment on job B and C to pay their help to finish job A, then disapear leaving the homeowner with a half demo'd home.

    Never let a tradesman be ahead of you on $ vs. work completed. It should be in gradual payments as work progresses. Sure, painters here will say they need to pay for labor, material, etc. up front. IMHO, that's part of being in business; doing the work prior to getting paid. The tradesman always has the upper hand of stopping work if an installment isn't made or utilizing a mechanics lein if the car owner doesn't pay.

    I'd go small claims if research shows he owns enough assets in his name or works a "real" payroll job that could be garnished with a judgement. Chances are, he's "judgement proof".
    If it looks collectable, and since small claims there has a $4000 ceiling, I'd spend $3,000 on an attorney to get the $10,000 judgement.

    I'd start asking local car guys/clubs if they've had bad dealings with him and see if they were successful in a suit if they pursued action.

    Also, if he's flying this low under the radar, once you collect (if you can)you might want to see if the IRS knows about his business income.
     
  18. This sucks and your story hits close to home for me. My inlaws are also German immigrants who came here when they were young, worked hard and became successful. They are also very trusting and have gotten screwed by scumbags like this.

    It's probably better to walk away but to let a piece of shit get away with screwing people like this just galls me. But having been through a long legal battle in the past, it's probably not worth the stress and aggravation to take legal action. It might be better to move on and count it as a lesson learned.

    Maybe check into this guy's licensure, potential code violations, state and local regulations, etc. That doesn't cost anything and you might be able to cause some trouble for him. ^Yikes, I really hate to say that because I am against government over-regulation and and in principle, I'm against the idea of causing this kind of trouble for anyone, but it sounds like this scumbag has it coming, if there is no other way to achieve some satisfaction. Just a thought, maybe a bad thought though.
     
  19. deucetruck
    Joined: Jan 8, 2010
    Posts: 633

    deucetruck
    Member
    from Missouri

    That's why scum prey on your Dad's (and my parents) generation. They grew up ALWAYS doing the right thing and believe that others will too.

    Best of luck. I really hope your FIL gets to enjoy his dream car. He deserves it!!!
     

  20. ^Okay, this changes my opinion a bit. If your FIL is ready for the fight and can handle the stress, then I say go for it. It IS the principle!! And I believe the same way, if it costs twice as much as I ever recover, it's worth it, but only if you're ready to handle the stress and everything that goes with it. I was concerned for your FIL because of his age, but if he's ready for a fight, go man go!! He has the moral high ground.
     
  21. oldsjoe
    Joined: May 2, 2011
    Posts: 2,526

    oldsjoe
    Member

    Take the lame shop to court it will probably be time consuming but seems how your Father In Law is retired he sure has the time to put into it! Don't let the slime win and get away with a 10,000 pay day for ruining a dream! You may not get all the money returned by the time you figure in legal fees and everything else but the slime will be losing money everyday he has to show in court! Meanwhile DOCUMENT EVERYTHING take pictures of the car and the so called work the slime did. Hopefully you have some before pictures too. Don't forget to add the cost of the removal of the vehicle from the slime's shop! Or any other expenses that were incurred by the lack of the slime not fulfilling the contract!
     
  22. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member

    He was told not to pay him that much in advance but did anyway... he didn't want to feel like he owed the guy anything.

    As far as his name goes... I'll buy a billboard across the road from him to tarnish his name if needed... I've been looking for him and the only mention of him online is filling the holes and painting and engine compartment of a Mustang (which is owned by a friend of mine who said this guy took forever to finish his car)

    We will work any and all avenues to resolve this matter... even if it comes to calling the government in for code violations.

    With my line of work I sell to a TON of automotive shops in the area and feel like I could probably tarnish this guys name pretty good around here.

    Sadly, I feel he will still be able to rip off other folks.

    Something I failed to mention in all of this is that the body guy doesn't feel any remorse about this... he argued about "all of the work" he's done to the car...
     
  23. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member

    That's the downside... he has a bad heart and his health isn't the best. We almost lost him 2 years ago and that is part of the reason they decided to repaint the car.

    In the last year the stress of this has been causing him some health issues... so this turn of events really pissed me off
     
  24. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,584

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    My initial advice was to walk away, and the above statements reinforce that notion. In spite of that, in principle I VERY MUCH agree that slimeballs like this guy should NOT be allowed get away with this type of cheating.

    That said, your FiL's health and enjoyment of remaining years is, in my opinion, of far greater importance at this point that the $8500/!0,000 at stake.

    IF.....there was a GOOD chance of recovering the money, with minimal stress, and in a reasonable time frame, my thoughts may be different. But the reality is, $10k is not in the cards. You/he can acknowledge the loss now or acknowledge it later...but either way...that is by far the most likely outcome.

    You may think I am 'easy'...not a fighter.....you would be mistaken in that opinion. But above all, time and experience has persuaded me to be a realist and that trumps wishful thinking.

    In any case, I hope the Jag gets painted, soon, and the Fil can enjoy it!
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014
  25. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,793

    tfeverfred
    Member

    Call the lawyer he used in October. Tell him to stay way from low ball, one man joints. I wouldn't let a one man operation work on a classic car.
     
  26. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,793

    tfeverfred
    Member

    And all of THIS, is stupid and probably slanderous.
     
  27. unkledaddy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2006
    Posts: 2,864

    unkledaddy
    Member

  28. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,793

    tfeverfred
    Member

  29. Why?
     
  30. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088

    Thirdyfivepickup
    Member

    Wow. Just realized I posted this in the wrong area...

    (I haven't been here in a while and it shows!)
     
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