What constitutes an enforceable verbal contract?

I work in a salon as an independent contractor. Upon informing the salon owner I was leaving the salon she threatened to sue me for the cost of a device she purchased for my use. When I was hired we had a verbal agreement that she would purchase and maintain all supplies and product’s I needed for my services and in turn she would get 60% of the profit. After she purchased a $3000 device she came to me with a contract which said I would pay for the devise within one year of purchase. I refused to sign the contract but she is claiming we had a verbal agreement and verbal agreements are honored and she will sue me for what is owed if I leave the salon. Does she have a case against me?

Asked on August 12, 2015 under Business Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, a verbal agreement--though the correct term is "oral agreement"--is enforceable in most cases and should be enforceable in this case. An agreement, however, requires just that--*agreement* between two parties. If you did not agree to her terms, there was no enforceable or binding contract. She, of course, can lie and try to convince a court that you did enter into this agreement, and if she could do so, she could potentially get a judgment against you. However, while possible for her to win, it would be an uphill battle: if she were to sue you, she would be the plaintiff, and the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. That means that she has to prove her case; you technically do not need to prove your version, though you of course may present your own evidence and testimony to undercut or contradict whatever she says. The burden of proof is not high in civil (non-criminal) cases like this, but since the burden is on her, if she sues you and a court can't decide which of you is telling the truth about the agreement, you'd win: she must be more persuasive and credible than you to have a chance of winning.

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