Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I recently sent a notice of intent to a customer who is not paying their final bill. Now he has gone ahead and filed a small claims suit against me for not finishing. What do I do?
I recently sent a notice of intent to a customer who is not paying their final bill. Now he has gone ahead and filed a small claims suit against me for not finishing. What do I do?
Obviously they have no intention of paying at this point so I'm not sure where to go now that they have filed the suit.
Sep 21, 2018
I'm sorry to hear that this dispute has gotten a little out of hand. First, it's worth noting that a lien filing is still a potential option for recovering payment - and when a payment dispute is at a stalemate, a lien filing can help wrangle some leverage. When that claim can be filed will be based on exactly what "notice of intent" was sent. If a Notice of Intention to File a Claim of Lien was filed, as required by Wisconsin's mechanics lien statute, then a lien claim cannot be filed until at least 30 days after filing the Notice of Intention to File a Claim of Lien. If a non-statutory Notice of Intent was sent, a claimant could have to send the statutory Notice of Intention to File a Claim of Lien then wait at least 30 days to file their lien claim. You can learn more on notices and deadlines here: Wisconsin Lien & Notice FAQs. Regarding small claims court - first, it's very important to round up all communications (emails, texts, times and dates of phone calls), documentation (your contract, any change orders, other written documents from the job), and any other information. Having proof to back up your position in small claims court goes a long way, and having it readily accessible in an organized manner can help a claimant's case in small claims court. Further, this also may serve as an opportunity to file a counterclaim - meaning, filing your own claim against the party who brought you into small claims court. You can learn more about Wisconsin small claims court here: Basic Guide to Wisconsin Small Claims Actions. Finally, it might be a good idea to consult a local attorney familiar with construction and small claims court - they would be able to walk you through the necessary steps and advise you on potential outcomes. Retaining and attorney is not necessary (and that's one of the best features of small claims court!), but it could be helpful. But remember, just because the other party has brought claims against you does not mean your claim for payment is jeopardized. It just makes the fight for payment a little harder. Lastly, this resource could be helpful: File A Lien Or Go To Small Claims Court?