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To sue or not to sue?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Todd B, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. Todd B

    Todd B Active Member

    I am looking for opinions on past experiences for those who have taken clients to small claims court. Is it worth it or not in your opinion? I have a client whom I did some waterfowl for, 2 snow geese and a common merganser. Anyhow he has told me numerous times he was coming to pick up but never shows. I did not get a full deposit which is my fault for starting but I have done work for him in the past. Anyhow he owes me $705.00. I sent the standard certified letter threatening to dispose of the mounts or proceed with court. I just received the letter back because he refused it. I have my paper trail and know he has a job so I know I can win it. But is it worth the hassle? I have already lost him as a customer and good riddance in my opinion.

    Todd B
  2. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    In small claims court you can win a judgement easy enough, but collecting is the hard part. The courts won't help you do that. Waste of time.

  3. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    It will be a waste of time if he has a joint account with his wife and you "win." You have to sue both him and his wife or the bank will tell you take a hike when you take the paperwork over to them to have the money taken out of the account. The court can not "Make" him pay right there at the time you win,he probably willnot even show up. Donate the mounts to a school and get a reciept for double the taxidermy fee and use it as a tax write off or use the mounts as display work in your shop. Winning in small claims is a joke most of the time and will just prolong your stress about the whole thing.
  4. EA

    EA Well-Known Member

    The proverbial Rock and a Hard Place. You need the judgement to file a lien and a lawyer to make sure all the T's are crossed and I's dotted for the lien to stick. Not a lot of room for that in $705.
  5. smittys llc

    smittys llc New Member

    You can sue and and win your case,However good luck getting your money.I have gone to court against a major retailer for over 185 life size and shoulder mounts and won my case but it took over 5 years and enormous attorney fees.In the long run it turned out to be a wash. You have a better chance on suing him if he bad mouths you to potential clients.This can open up a new can of worms. There was a Taxidermist in Minneapolis that just won his case against another Taxidermist that talked BS about him and it costed him $50,000.00 It was a Part timer that made bias claims on line against a Fulltime studio that has been in Business for over 30 years. The best way to get your money is to put a LIEN on his a$$.TRUST ME, THIS WILL GET HIS ATTENTION!!!!!
  6. mike g

    mike g Active Member

    Not sure what your rights are when it comes to collecting in your state but here in Nebraska it is well worth the time to take a non payer to court. You get a judgment and they have so many days to pay. They don't pay you go back and get a default judgment and then the next step is paying the Sheriff to impound property (car, truck, boat, motorcycle) anything registered to the client. Property will be sold and your debt is paid and if anything is left over the client gets back. Check your rights as there are a lot of states that allow you to collect in that way, it is just that most don't know it.
  7. Nancy C

    Nancy C Well-Known Member

    Be very careful about donating to charitable organizations and trying to claim double your fees. 'No use adding tax fraud to the loss you've already sustained.
    The sad fact is that the ONLY thing you can legally write off when you donate a mount is the cost of the supplies used to make it.
    You have to eat all of your labor costs and everything else. (I stopped donating mounts when I learned this!)

    A lien sounds like an interesting idea. I don't know how feasible it is, but it's definitely worth investigating to see if you could do it after going through small claims court. A full-blown lawsuit will almost certainly cost you more than you will recover.

    You definitely need to report him as a bad credit risk.

  8. Todd B

    Todd B Active Member

    Thanks for all of the input and advice. I have been toying with the idea and a good friend of mine who is the judge in my county urged me to sue. He said if the guy has a job the courts will garnish his wages. That is why I was curious of everyones experiences. I have not decided what to do but all of your input is appreciated.

    Todd B
  9. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    Probably correct. I have never done it I was just thinking of the value of the bird itself included. I do know that small claims is most often a waste of time and effort.
  10. mike g

    mike g Active Member

    The state of Indiana does have a execution against personal property if the client does not pay after a judgement is entered in small claims. Worth every penny to collect as the fee's for you are very minimal in your state. Also you can add those fee's to the suit costing your client more money as you collect everything you are out. I used to look at small claims as a waste of time till I actually jumped in and did it. Now, I wait beyond my contract date (to give the benefit to the client) then I file. To date I have collected on every one of them where before I got stuck with mounts and hides nobody wanted and when I did sell them, I didn't even get close to what was owed or out of pocket.
  11. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    I know a bird only taxidermist that collects the FULL COST of all migratory bird / waterfowl mounts up front because as you know you can't sell them to recoup your money ,that plus a 10.00 records fee, to compensate him for his hourly/living / support the family wage rate if he gets checked by the federal warden.
  12. If his wifes name is on the accounts its a waste, same for cars, trucks boats etc. YOu cannot harm his spouse for his problem.
  13. Frog

    Frog New Member

    Everyone I've filed on in mag court, I have got my money. Usually when the deputy serves the papers they call & come pick up. Only once did I have to go back after the judgement & file for garnishment.& he came when that was filed. I only file on customers that have a job though. Thats in GA.
  14. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Just did it here and won hands down getting paid Friday $730.00 Yes do it!
  15. gab

    gab Active Member

    worked for me.had a Philadelphia lawyer served at his office.he paid promptly without having to go to court.my client had money he was just an a**hole.if your client is broke,you can't bleed a turnip.
  16. mike g

    mike g Active Member

    According the to Indiana Small claims manual, joint accounts are fair game for garnishment as they are here in Nebraska. Same goes for joint property so I see you have every leg to stand on when it comes to collecting a judgement after one is entered.
  17. Todd B

    Todd B Active Member

    Thanks everyone. I am going to do it probably Monday. I have all the texts messages and documentation where he said he was coming and was a no show as well as the refused certified letter. It so happens it will be filed and heard in the court of one of my good customers who is the judge. I think it will be an easy win. Thanks for all of your input.

    Todd B
  18. babowhunter

    babowhunter Man,I love this stuff!!

    Let us know what happens Todd!
  19. Todd B

    Todd B Active Member

    I sure will.

    Todd B
  20. RJ Simington

    RJ Simington Active Member

    The best way you can get atleast a little satisfaction is;

    Get a video camera & a Shotgun,

    Make a tape of you blowing the CRAP out of each one .

    Then send it to him with a note saying please look for someone else to store you animals in the future.

    As the other guys have said you are waisting your time sueing a client.

    RJ Simington