Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I shook hands on a job bid for 10k, up on completion the man decides the work is only worth 6.5k to him. I asked for a check. Check said 6.5k. I cashed it. It said final payment, paid in full. I gave them a receipt for the 6.5k and showed a balance of 3.5k.. sent a notice of lien within the time frame. Did I shoot myself in the foot?
I shook hands on a job bid for 10k, up on completion the man decides the work is only worth 6.5k to him. I asked for a check. Check said 6.5k. I cashed it. It said final payment, paid in full. I gave them a receipt for the 6.5k and showed a balance of 3.5k.. sent a notice of lien within the time frame. Did I shoot myself in the foot?
Had a lawyer he advised mark through and put partial payment in memo area.. he has disappeared on me. This is my first year trying to get into business. I'm lost as to my next move.
Jan 4, 2019
That's a good question. First, it's worth noting that when there is a payment dispute, accepting and cashing a check that states it is for "final payment" is typically not advisable if further payment is necessary. By doing so, it serves as an indication of acceptance of the partial amount as settling the entire debt between the parties. Further, it seems like a bad idea to alter a check without the understanding and consent of the owner - and if the check should read "partial payment", it'd likely be wise to make sure that's put on the check in the first place. Editing the check afterwards might seem like the easy way out, but could only open up more reason for dispute and legal liability. You'd mentioned you'd sent a Notice of Lien on time - I'll assume this refers to a Notice of Intent to Lien. Often, sending a Notice of Intent to Lien will be enough to compel payment all by itself - many claimants find that sending a Notice of Intent to Lien will compel payment without the need for a lien filing itself. If that isn't enough to compel payment, as long as all notice and deadline requirements have been met, filing a mechanics lien could be an option to compel payment. Granted, accepting and cashing a check that stated it was made for final payment could certainly create an issue with the enforceability of the lien - that would serve as evidence that payment is not owed and unpaid. If filing a mechanics lien becomes necessary, this article may be of use: How to File an Arkansas Mechanics lien. If a mechanics lien isn't available or doesn't seem like a great option for recovery, threatening other legal action - such as a claim for breach of contract or unjust enrichment - could help to compel recovery. Plus, if all else fails, small claims court is a cheap and efficient option, albeit a relatively risky one.