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Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?

 
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:10 PM   #1
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Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


I got involved in a joint venture of sorts. A client wanted me to do some jobs for him that required some pricey specialized equipment. The client bought the equipment and we did the work for him at a discount rate, and then I also used the equipment on other jobs and paid them rent for using it. It worked well for a couple years but things have slowed down now and the client decided he wants the equipment back and is going to try and do his jobs himself. I am ok with that. This client always paid us on time but the last two invoices are unpaid, one 90 days and the other about 30. Everytime I ask him about the invoices he says he will take care of it soon but he has not. My question is can I hold onto his equipment until he pays me? I fear if I give it back to him I will never see my money. I just want to know where the law is on this. I think he wants to come get his equipment next week and when he calls I was going to tell him bring my check and you can get it but I know that will turn our somewhat still friendly relationship hostile and I want to make know what my legal rights are.
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:17 PM   #2
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Well possession is Nine tenths of the law. I'd be upfront with the guy. You pay me what you owe and you have your equipment back.

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Old 03-12-2010, 07:39 PM   #3
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


I'm sure legally it varies by jurisdiction, but he is the legal owner of the equipment and can take it as he wishes.

You could try and use the fact that you are in possession of the equipment as leverage, but in reality the fact that he owes you money, and you have his machinery are unrelated.

He could have you arrested for theft.

Just my nickel.
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:46 PM   #4
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


I had a sub try that one time. He spent the weekend in jail.

Do you want to risk it?

By the way, the sub was not living up to the terms of our agreement.

I believe that if the equipment is his and you refuse to return it, you are skating on thin ice.

I know this isn't what you wanted to hear but...
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:28 PM   #5
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Sounds like a question for judge Judy
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:00 AM   #6
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


One of our subs used our power auger. He was crazy to begin with, but then he tried to hold us up for an extra $500 on a job over and above the agreed (and paid) price.
Anyway, he came to our office and after over an hour of arguing and screaming, we caled the police to get him off the property. They came, and I calmly told the story and even pointed to the auger, which was clearly visible through the windows of the installer's van.
Apparently, if you lend someone something for an unspecifed period of time, without a written agreement, then, in the wors of the police officer, it's "a civil matter". In other words, though the auger was right there, I had no right to take it back unless I took the worker to small claims court.
I don't lend anything out any more.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:10 AM   #7
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


I'd tell the guy you lost the keys to the building it's stored in and you can't afford a locksmith until you are paid in full.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:41 AM   #8
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by tgeb View Post
I'm sure legally it varies by jurisdiction, but he is the legal owner of the equipment and can take it as he wishes.

You could try and use the fact that you are in possession of the equipment as leverage, but in reality the fact that he owes you money, and you have his machinery are unrelated.

He could have you arrested for theft.

Just my nickel.

No I don't think he can be arrested. This is a civil matter, not criminal. There's a verbal rental agreement (contract). He would have to take him to civil court in which case he can counter claim the unpaid invoices
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:49 AM   #9
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Stealing is borrowing without permission. You had permission. It's a civil matter.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:51 AM   #10
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bdog1234 View Post
I got involved in a joint venture of sorts. A client wanted me to do some jobs for him that required some pricey specialized equipment. The client bought the equipment and we did the work for him at a discount rate, and then I also used the equipment on other jobs and paid them rent for using it. It worked well for a couple years but things have slowed down now and the client decided he wants the equipment back and is going to try and do his jobs himself. I am ok with that. This client always paid us on time but the last two invoices are unpaid, one 90 days and the other about 30. Everytime I ask him about the invoices he says he will take care of it soon but he has not. My question is can I hold onto his equipment until he pays me? I fear if I give it back to him I will never see my money. I just want to know where the law is on this. I think he wants to come get his equipment next week and when he calls I was going to tell him bring my check and you can get it but I know that will turn our somewhat still friendly relationship hostile and I want to make know what my legal rights are.
The equipment does not belong to you, if you don't give it back you can be charged with theft.

Trying to get him to give you money that he owes you to get back his equipment is extortion.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:52 AM   #11
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bwalley View Post
The equipment does not belong to you, if you don't give it back you can be charged with theft.

Trying to get him to give you money that he owes you to get back his equipment is extortion.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:53 AM   #12
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by buddy110 View Post
No I don't think he can be arrested. This is a civil matter, not criminal. There's a verbal rental agreement (contract). He would have to take him to civil court in which case he can counter claim the unpaid invoices
Theft and extortion are criminal matters.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:55 AM   #13
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bwalley View Post
Theft and extortion are criminal matters.
Yes, but in this case it's neither, there is clearly a verbal contract. I.E. civil, not criminal
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:59 AM   #14
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by buddy110 View Post
Yes, but in this case it's neither, there is clearly a verbal contract. I.E. civil, not criminal
Wrong,

The person who paid for and owns the equipment wants it back.

The guy in posession of the equipment is committing two felonies by not allowing the owner of the equipment to pick it up and trying to make him pay him money to get his property back.

The overdue invoice is a civil matter.

Grand theft and extortion are criminal matters.

If he does not give the equipment back he should get arrested and deserves whatever happens to him.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:01 AM   #15
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


This is no different than a customer firing you while you still have your tools on the jobsite and not allowing you to pick them up.

The legal term is mitigation of damages. Possession don't enter into the equation.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:02 AM   #16
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bwalley View Post
Wrong,

The person who paid for and owns the equipment wants it back.

The guy in posession of the equipment is committing two felonies by not allowing the owner of the equipment to pick it up and trying to make him pay him money to get his property back.

The overdue invoice is a civil matter.

Grand theft and extortion are criminal matters.

If he does not give the equipment back he should get arrested and deserves whatever happens to him.

Hmmm. By your logic you can be arrested for not making a car payment. Verbal contracts are as enforceable as written ones. This is purely civil
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:04 AM   #17
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
This is no different than a customer firing you while you still have your tools on the jobsite and not allowing you to pick them up.

The legal term is mitigation of damages. Possession don't enter into the equation.
Except that in this case the person has been granted permission to use the equiptment off site. That constitutes a civil agreement. Civil agreements are under civil jurisdiction
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:20 AM   #18
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by buddy110 View Post
Except that in this case the person has been granted permission to use the equiptment off site. That constitutes a civil agreement. Civil agreements are under civil jurisdiction
If you borrow something and you refuse to return it when asked, it is theft.

When you demand money to give someone back something they already own it is extortion.

Both of these are felonies.



being late or non payment of an invoice is a civil matter.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:25 AM   #19
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bwalley View Post
If you borrow something and you refuse to return it when asked, it is theft.

When you demand money to give someone back something they already own it is extortion.

Both of these are felonies.



being late or non payment of an invoice is a civil matter.

This is also a civil matter. he was given permission to use it. There was a verbal contract to this affect. In order to prosecute for theft he would have to take something without permission. In this case he was given the property willingly. Anyone with ANY legal knoledge will confirm this.

Nuff said
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:28 AM   #20
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Re: Is It Legal To Hold Equipment On A Nonpay?


Quote:
Originally Posted by buddy110 View Post
Except that in this case the person has been granted permission to use the equiptment off site. That constitutes a civil agreement. Civil agreements are under civil jurisdiction
Yes. And now the agreement has been cancelled by one of the parties involved. It is his stuff and the OP is required to engage in this mitigation of damages.

Let's say one of your customers, for whatever reason, calls you up this weekend and says, 'Listen, I got home last night and the work you did Friday was crap! You're done, mister. And I'm keeping the tools you have in my garage as damages!" I doubt you have either a written or a verbal agreement that he would be allowed to keep your tools. This would be where mitigation of damages (aka minimumization of damages or avoidable consequences) would apply.

Even if he allows you to come pick up your tools, he cannot legally throw them out on the curb either.

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