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Old 02-05-2010, 08:14 PM   #31
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


I am considering appealing. My lawyer friends have told me it will be overturned on appeal...but they also told me I had no chance of losing in the first place...

Not sure if it's worth it dollar-wise to appeal. It will definitely be a "it's the principal" situation. I am annoyed that the judge made her ruling on the contractor'ss testimony that our pipes weren't low enough in the ground. He told the judge they were supposed to be below the frost line. I showed her there was no code for pool piping and she still believed him and said he couldn't know where the pipes were. Not to mention we had no contract and he couldn't even remember when the date we made the (imagined) verbal contract.

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Old 02-05-2010, 11:37 PM   #32
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


I think you got a raw deal but often times it is how a case is presented. Obviously we are not privy to exactly what was said by either party and that may have made a difference.

I did not happen to notice what state this is so depending on if an appeal is an automatically granted or if the appeal has to be granted due to a mistake of law. There is also a difference between a trial de novo or if it is a true appeal and only the incorrect action is argued.

Both of those situations would make a difference as to the value and subsequent possible outcomes of an appeal.

Your lawyer friends would be the best place to prepare for an appeal and figure out if what can be appealed may make any difference.

If it is a trial de novo, I would suggest getting statements from pool installers and especially from folks that do what this guy does (covers) and get statements as to there being any common practice or law that would allow one to presume the pipes were deeper than they actually were.
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Old 02-06-2010, 06:05 PM   #33
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


Going to court on principle alone is not a good idea most of the time. Weigh the cost of going to court vs. the charge of the repair. Remember without a written contract you may not be able to recoup attorney fees, time off work, or court costs. If you lose again then you are out even more money. Only you can decide if the principle is worth the monetary risk.

If you feel you have a solid case then by all means proceed. I don't believe that you do. I will say ethically the contractor should have repaired the damage at his/her cost. That said there is no way for him/her to know where unmarked lines are. That is probably the argument that will continue to be made regardless of whether or not there are codes related to depth of pipes for swimming pools (there are codes specific to swimming pools for electrical, pumps, clean outs, atmospheric venting, dual drain system separations, cleaner fittings, barriers, and so on as well as ANSI requirements).

As far as the judge I do not believe the judge was an idiot. The burden was on you to prove your case and you where unsuccessful. It was up to you to bring in information related to codes or lack there of as well as expert witnesses and common building practices related to your case. I'm sure there are others here who will disagree but IMO you failed to arm yourself with the necessary documentation to win your case. Advice for the future is to always have a written document or contract which outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party.

Advice on where to go from here would be to let it go (as far as legal proceedings) and tell those you know about your experience with this contractor. Stick to the facts and don't blow it out of proportion to avoid a potential slander suit. You will hurt them more in loss of business then you ever could in court. You can also post a review on multiple online resources such as rip off report, Angie's list, etc.
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Old 02-06-2010, 06:38 PM   #34
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


you would not be entitled to attorneys fees nor lost time from work. court costs are recoverable if you win.

and ari is incorrect. You were sued. The onus is on the plaintiff to prove their case beyond a preponderance of the evidence. A defendant does not have to prove their case. In fact, there are many cases where a defendant does not even have to mount a defense simply because a plaintiff cannot provide the necessary level of proof to prevail.

As the plaintiff did not provide any proof of his claim, he should not have won even without you proving otherwise. He did not prove his claim, merely stated it.

Basically, the judge took the plaintiffs word as expert testimony, which as he was the plaintiff, is simply wrong on the judges part.

and there are ways to determine where the lines are with extreme accuracy. If the guy did not have access to the equipment to discover where and how deep the lines were, then all of his drilling should have been undertaken with the knowledge he had no idea where any plumbing lines were and they might be right where he intended to drill.

He failed to perform due diligence and you ended up with damages due to that. Contractors fault.

Additionally, when drilling such as he was, it is quite noticable when you drill into a plumbing line so even if you give him one screw-up, he should at that time realized the pipes were not as deep and he felt they should be (which was not supported by either code or testimony other than his own.)

your friends are right, he should not have won and if you decide to appeal, the ruling should not stand but like I said, be cautious of what you are allowed to bring into an appeal. If a trial de novo, it is far practical purposes, a new trial like the first had not taken place. If it is an appeal based on a mistake, then you may be limited what you can bring into court. New testimony that you should have had in the first trial may not be allowed.





You are time limited to file an appeal and it looks like you would have to lay out a considerable amount of money just to file the appeal.
Quote:
RIGHT TO APPEAL

If you, as a plaintiff or a defendant, disagree with the court's decision, you may appeal the case to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days from the date of judgment. You must file a Notice of Appeal, a copy of the Request for Transcript, and a Case Information Statement within the 45 days with the Clerk of the Appellate Division located at the Hughes Justice Complex, Trenton) and deliver copies to:

All parties to the case who appeared in court.
The Clerk of the Special Civil Part from which the appeal is taken.
The judge who decided the case.
You must pay a filing fee of $200 with the Notice of Appeal and deposit $300 with the Clerk of the Appellate Division within 30 days of the Notice of Appeal. This deposit may be used to pay settlement or court costs if the appeal is lost. If the appeal is successful, the deposit will be refunded.

You also must obtain a transcript (a copy of the record of what happened in court) of the trial. The request for a transcript should be made to the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part in the county in which the case was tried. You must deposit with the Clerk the estimated cost of the transcript (as determined by the court reporter, Clerk, or agency preparing it) or $300 for each day or part of a day of the trial. You must file three copies of the transcript with the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Division. Questions concerning an appeal should be directed to the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Division at (609) 292-4822, or to an attorney.
best of luck if you go for it.

Last edited by nap; 02-06-2010 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 02-06-2010, 07:32 PM   #35
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


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and ari is incorrect. You were sued.
I misread an earlier post and thought the OP had filed the suit. OP should not have represented himself if he was being sued. Nap is correct the contractor had the burden of proof not the OP. I still don't think you will win for the same reasons I stated earlier but ultimately it is up to you as to whether or not to proceed in court with this. Again, you can do more by telling your story to others than I think you can in court. Word of mouth is very powerful as statistically happy clients tell 1-3 people about their experience vs. unhappy clients who tell 20 or more people their experience. Those people in turn relay those stories to others.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:57 PM   #36
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ARI001 View Post
I misread an earlier post and thought the OP had filed the suit. OP should not have represented himself if he was being sued. Nap is correct the contractor had the burden of proof not the OP. I still don't think you will win for the same reasons I stated earlier but ultimately it is up to you as to whether or not to proceed in court with this. Again, you can do more by telling your story to others than I think you can in court. Word of mouth is very powerful as statistically happy clients tell 1-3 people about their experience vs. unhappy clients who tell 20 or more people their experience. Those people in turn relay those stories to others.
I tend to agree with both you and Nap. But there is one more angle to point out the original trial was flawed entirely. There is no Prima Facie evidence of work performed in the first place, as there is no written contract between the OP and the contractor. You should be able to win an entirely new Trial.!
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:27 AM   #37
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


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Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
I tend to agree with both you and Nap. But there is one more angle to point out the original trial was flawed entirely. There is no Prima Facie evidence of work performed in the first place, as there is no written contract between the OP and the contractor. You should be able to win an entirely new Trial.!
There is actually:

Quote:
Hi all. I had a pool cover installed and when the contractor was installing it
Posts in a public forum can be used in court.

Verbal contracts are hard to enforce not impossible. Obviously the OP did have some sort of verbal agreement with the contractor in question despite what the OP has said in a later post with the comment "imagined verbal contract". Last time I checked people didn't go around installing pool covers for other people out of the goodness of their heart.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:33 AM   #38
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


if it were me i would not give him a dime! if he sues in small claims i still would not pay, i would make him sue again. then in the mean time take a snickers bar smear it on the bill and mail it back to him! although this is not useful advice its just a thought on how i would handle some one like this. clearly his fault.
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Old 02-13-2010, 04:00 PM   #39
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Can a contractor bill me to fix pipes he broke?


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Originally Posted by INKlusions View Post
if it were me i would not give him a dime! if he sues in small claims i still would not pay, i would make him sue again. then in the mean time take a snickers bar smear it on the bill and mail it back to him! although this is not useful advice its just a thought on how i would handle some one like this. clearly his fault.
LOL -- actually I can attest to how good that makes you feel, even if you don't win anything. My ex- ticked me off when she TRIED to have me served at work with divorce papers. I resented the public display , so I took a ride when I knew he was on his way--three different times! Cost her $450 for three trips! Next husband will probably get his quietly in the mail. Ahh, it's the little things in life that get you by.

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