Can I take a company to small claims court for breach of an oral contract if no money was paid?

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Can I take a company to small claims court for breach of an oral contract if no money was paid?

I received a quote to provide demolition services from a local contractor which I accepted verbally and through text message 6 weeks after it was originally issued. Through the subsequent verbal and text communications received from the contractor he agreed to move forward to obtain the necessary permit. Now after 2 months of messaging back and forth the contractor does not want to provide the service, claiming he would not make any money on the job. Can I take him to small claims court to either require him to perform the work or obtain a monetary judgement against him? Please note, I did not pay any funds to him upfront or at any other point in time.

Asked on July 23, 2019 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You can't force him to perform: the law does NOT favor forcing people to actually do something against their will, with the one significant exception of forcing people who contracted to sell real estate to do so (which is rooted in the centuries-old belief that real estate is "special"--that because each parcel is different and unique, getting monetary compensation to buy a different plot of land or home is not adequate compensation for missing on that *that* parcel's uniqueness).
You can sue for monetary compensation IF you can show you suffered a provable and definable loss due to this: the law only provides compensation for actual losses you can prove.


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