Should I take my former Boarder to Small Claims Court?

This ^^^ in spades

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Well, that’s a stupid business plan. Unless you do as was said above, and file for lost time and everything else.

OP can try. But she needs to prepared to lose. She allowed the boarder to carry a debt forward for a long time, and now the boarder is unemployed.

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thanks for calling me stupid- I appreciate it
but since the OP isn’t running it as a business in the first place (ie still accepting checks after someone bounces one, allowing multiple late payments, etc) your point is rather moot

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I didn’t call you stupid. I said your willingness to spend thousands of dollars even for no return - out of pride and principle - is a stupid business plan. Time is money. Employee time is one of the largest expenses in a boarding business – that’s why you have to spend it wisely. E.g. it may be cheaper to strip a dirty stall and re-bed than pay someone to clean it, even if some of the bedding is salvageable.

And I agree that this is a moot point - in my opinion, it’s time for the OP to cut this boarder loose and stop throwing good money after bad.

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I think it would depend on how angry I was and if I could afford the time and energy it would take.

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If you have a lawyer friend maybe they can draft a letter on letterhead to the deadbeat, which might be enough to scare the boarder into paying up.

I’d call that a $200 lesson to remember for the future. Trust no one. Get paid. On time, and in full. Always. If not, hand them the lead rope to their horse, and tell them to take a hike and get lost. It’s not worth the hassle to deal with people like this. And make sure that you charge enough to put up with as much headache as you must when boarding horses for someone else. Don’t work cheap, and don’t sell yourself short.

Tell her “good riddance” to bad rubbish. That’s worth $200, to not have to put up with that crap any more.

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Sometimes you don’t even need to file the claim to get what you are owed. In my county it is very simple to file a small claim (paperwork is on county website). Our county is specific that no attorneys come to the hearings, so you can do it all yourself. Small claims are meant to be pretty straight forward IF you have documentation. If you have a paper trail (contracts, receipts, bad check entries on your bank statement, etc) then go do a small claims. Your paper trail will need to include things like how much per day a late fee is, when that fee must be paid, what the fee for a bounced check is or at least that boarder is responsible for any bounced check fee, etc. Just saying “well I told her” isn’t going to cut it.You may never see your money if they can’t pay, but you might. Hopefully just following through will be enough for her to go “oh crap” and pay you - and you can do the prep without actually filing and not end up having to spend more $:

My friend runs a business and had an individual send a bad payment on a $600 invoice. She sent a new invoice with the cost of the bad check fee to the individual, with a copy of the bad check and fee on her bank statement, and in the letter made it clear that if payment was not received in a week that the small claims process would begin. On that due date a letter was sent certified with all the small claims paperwork filled out (not yet filed) and a final deadline of a week later was given and the letter made clear that if payment was not received by X day at X time that the claim would be filed with the court. The claim never had to be filed as the payment was received the day before. My friend was fully prepared to drive to the courthouse and file though. These days it is all video court if it goes to court so you don’t even have to leave your house. Fees vary, but where I am it is $50 to file under $500 claim and a $15 sheriff fee (since they will serve the defendant - if they live out of state then you have to check with the other state on their service fee).

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If you want to pursue this further, the first thing I would do is research how small claims court works in your area. There is usually a charge for filing. If it is $25, I would be tempted to file just to make her respond. (However in my state it is $95) You dont need a lawyer. A big problem is still actually getting the money. In my state you have to pay more to get a garnishment or lien etc. So even if you win, you may not see money for a long time and I am not sure which court costs are recoverable.

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I sued someone in small claims. When she didn’t want to pay up after I won, she just didn’t open the door when the sheriff came. Sheriff wanted another fee to “serve” her again. Knowing this is why I didn’t take someone else to court–I couldn’t find him to ask why he wasn’t doing the work he was paid for, what odds would the sheriff have? I doubt it’s worth it to the OP to go to court.

People don’t have to open the door for the Post Office either.

I wonder if the court would zing you on concept of estoppel because you accepted the late payments for so long, though.

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Thanks to everyone who replied.

Had she been employed, I would not have allowed this to go on as long as it did. While the horse was alive, she rarely went past a week late, but on 3-4 occasions in 10 years it did hit 2-3 weeks. But she always paid up. I’d tack on the late fee to the next month and that would be that. 3 months later, lather, rinse, repeat.

Now that the horse is dead, that motivation to stay current on her payments is gone. I have no doubt she is struggling financially. Her refusal to respond to me anymore is what has set me off. I know a lot of businesses are having to deal with customers who suffered financial hardships because of COVID and can’t pay on time. So I was definitely trying to get what I could, when I could.

I got most of my money from her. $200 won’t kill me.

But I really want to teach her the lesson that she can’t just ignore a problem and expect it to go away.

I think I will go the certified route and see what happens. It’s less than $4.00.

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Yep. You cant accept this for so long, and then all of a sudden get miffed and want it back. I think youd lose in court, OP. Cut your losses, learn your lesson.

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Yeah but if it’s certified, it needs a signature. The PO will report if it’s been refused, or if a signature has been refused. It’s still proof that it was attempted to be delivered but refused.

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You might get a judgement in your favor but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get paid. Cut your losses. Also I don’t know that you can enforce a client paying lost wages due to debt collection. One typically sues for lost wages due to an injury /accident and may also sue for future wages…

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The law allows for substituted service like nail and mail. Plus in many Small Claims courts it’s the Court itself who sends out the service of the summons by regular and certified mail. The court then keeps track of what comes back and why.

Once a judgment is rendered, even a default judgment, you can collect. If the person paid you with a check you can purchase an information subpoena for a few bucks and serve that bank and/or other banks. Included with that information subpoena is a restraining order and the bank will then freeze any account in that person’s name. Then you get the money according to the rules of the jurisdiction.

Maine suspended small claims and other cases involving money last year. They did emergencies, custody etc …I looks like they have caught up. They can require arbitration before the case goes to trial. .

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Actually, depending on the rules in your state, I would consider pursuing your claim in small claims court. If you prevail (either on the merits of the case, or by default because she failed to appear), you will have a judgement against her. And make sure you record the judgement. Yes, you then have to try and collect, but what these deadbeats fail to understand/remember, is that (at least in my state), post judgement interest accrues until the judgement is satisfied. Years ago, that interest rate was 10%/year (don’t know what it is today). Because the judgement is recorded, and if she fails to satisfy it, it can be/will be sitting on her credit report for years, and the amount will be accruing interest. Sometime in the future, she is going to apply for a loan, and realize there is an unpaid judgement on her credit. You will get a phone call or some sort of communication to the effect “uh, can I pay off that judgement because I’m trying to get a loan and the bank won’t make the loan with this unpaid judgement on my record.” You may have to wait a while, but her “bad behavior” will come home to roost.

Check the rules in your state, but a small law firm I worked for many many years ago always made sure to get a judgement on behalf of the client and would sit on it for several years, watching the interest rack up. Invariably, the defendant would come back at some point wanting to satisfy the judgement so he or she could get a loan. Of course, if the defendant subsequently files bankruptcy, and the judgement debt is discharged, well, you will be out of luck.

Caveat…I have been out of the legal world for many years, so check what the small claims/enforcement of judgement laws currently are in your jurisdiction.

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Life’s too short to fight battles for $250. I understand wanting to punish her for her behaviour but living with herself is punishment enough. Karma will catch up with her (if it hasn’t already). It sounds like you have learned from this experience, so move forward with your life.

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OP, I’m even meaner and more vindictive when someone tries to screw me. Whether or not you will ever collect your judgment, that will appear on her credit rating. She would do well to know that and decide whether or not having to answer for a judgment against her is worth $205.

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