What are my rights if I bid on a women’s apartment to paint her house and she gave me a non-refundable deposit and now wants it back?

I bid the job for $700 total. After that I told her I would need half up front to secure the job non-refundable. After some time she changed her mind, cancelled the job and wanted her money back. I reminded her it was non-refundable and refused. She has since sued me and I’m due in court next month. The sticking point is we didn’t have any of this in writing. She’s claiming I didn’t tell her when in fact I did explain to her thoroughly that the deposit was non-refundable. Who do you think will win in this case?

Asked on October 22, 2015 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You will probably win, or at least seem to have  the odds in your favor:
1) Typically, deposits are not refundable when the customer cancels; usually, they rare refundable when the business/contractor can't or won't carry through or do the work. So assuming she admits that she cancelled, right there, the presumption is that the deposit is non-refundable.
2) As the person suing, the burden of proof is on her; that means that she needs to be *more* believable or credible than you--not by a lot, but at least by a fraction. If the two of you are equally credible, you win.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.