Is it legal for a business owner to choose not to return money owed to for a product that was paid for but not installed?

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Is it legal for a business owner to choose not to return money owed to for a product that was paid for but not installed?

An auto business owes me money for repairs not done and for a product I paid for which was not installed. I’ve found the he’s violated several laws and I can sue him in small claims court. By law, he must refund the $1200 for the product I did not receive and technically, he owes me much more than this for other faulty work and false advertising. Today, he threatened me on the phone, stating he would not refund my $1200 unless I send him an e-mail saying I won’t sue him for the other matters in dispute. Is he allowed to do this?

Asked on June 19, 2012 under General Practice, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If a seller or vendor does not provide products purchased or services paid for, they may not keep the payments for said products or services, and must repay them.

Anyone may offer to settle claims against them by offering to pay some of the claims but not others, or by offering to pay some claims in exchange for a release from liability for other claims. It is legal to make this offer--but you do not need to accept it. You are free to turn down the offer and sue him for any/everything you believe he owes you. Bear in mind that lawsuits do cost time and money, and are never certain: it is often worthwhile to give up some claims in exchange for  getting immediate, certain payment without having to go through litigation.


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