What are my rights if I did a freelance job worth thousands of dollars but my client made up some bogus claims that I was harassing him, so he didn’t want to pay and now wants to sue me?

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What are my rights if I did a freelance job worth thousands of dollars but my client made up some bogus claims that I was harassing him, so he didn’t want to pay and now wants to sue me?

I’m wondering if it’s legal for him to use the job I handed over to produce goods? Is the company receiving those documents free to use them to produce goods?

Asked on July 14, 2015 under Business Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, you should be able to sue your client based on breach of contract (not honoring his obligation to pay you for the work you did), for unjust enrichment (by being unjusticely enriched by keeping the fruits of your work without paying for them), and/or for fraud (if he lied to you about his intentions from the start). Yes, he might try to interpose his own spurious or dubious claim against you (e.g. as counterclaim), but if there is no basis for it, you would presumably win, so you should not see that as a reason to not pursue your own rights. If you win in court, you will get a court judgment ordering him to pay you the money he owes you. (And after all, if he's determined to sue you, he could do so regardless of whether you sued him for the money he owed you.)


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