We were hired to work on a project in Austin for a Development coompany who has a separate LLC/LLP for the project. The original project was for handrails for the company. We never received drawings for what a handrail was supposed to be on the project. When we arrived on site we were shown drawings for a guardrails. The PM/CM(who is a whole other situation) told us that the scope was wrong and we need to get the guardrails built per his schedule. As this was a first time working for this group and having a longer relationship with the CM we said we would need to get this changed. He said he would take care of it so we could keep moving. Long story short. He did not. When we sent in the invoices they were rejected and change order requests were said that we would have to submit before the invoice. Then we sent that in. We were rejected and told that we had to per contract get it approved before. Our argument came with images of all the texts of him telling us what to do, and the exhibit of the line items on the contract that didn't match. The lineal footages didn't match, the scope didn't match and the amounts didn't match. We also discovered that the CM was not supposed to be taking money from us as he said that we were supposed to pay him for 3% of the contract. Basically, we uncovered him taking money to the owner. The owner told us that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to return and then told us we abandon the project when we couldn't come to terms on the items that we installed and the materials we put in process.(There was a front for the materials on the original contract, but not for the extra) This is very convoluted and the in-house attorney we were working with died at the end of July so they turned it over to this new guy who is telling us (in a letter) that the owner is going to suit us for slander(I don't know how that is slander, but that is what he said) He also said we cost them money for abandoning the project and they would be seeking like 65K for the project( we filed a lien for 26,300). What should we do with this. We are being shoved around and we frankly are going broke trying to move along, but between the money we spent in doing work that was never contracted and buying materials for the rest of the project that was much more extensive than what we bid it is ridiculous. Lots more to the story and info, but need to get a response for this attorney and Levelset on how to proceed. Thanks
The legal analysis would start with a review of your subcontract or purchase order or proposal, and then extend to any communications which have occurred and to the lien that you filed.
You should retain a construction attorney to evaluate your legal situation and to provide advice. For example, there need to be documents declaring your customer in breach of contract, and seeking damages for your claims.
If the threat to sue you for "slander" is in writing, the attorney should review that as well.
We deal with these types of situations more regularly than I would like.
The first step is that you need to clear up your part of the story. There are two parts to this.
1. What created the lien? Make sure your documents are prepared to support the work that you completed to file the lien. His job is to make your life difficult by not being clear with the story and by saying that you did not perform good work.
2. The second part of the story is why he is suing you. He would have to prove that you abandoned the project without his prior material breach of not paying you all and it seems like he will have difficulty doing that. You do need to worry about the circumstances surrounding your removal from a project perspective (texts, emails, etc.). You also need to worry about how much it costs for the completion after the fact.
There's more here than what I want to write in this little box. Feel free to reach out to myself or any other construction attorney.
E. Aaron Cartwright III