What can I do if I’m a freelance video director, producer and editor and have a client who’s not paying me?

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What can I do if I’m a freelance video director, producer and editor and have a client who’s not paying me?

Our agreement was for 4 payments. The first was kept, the second was $500 short and the next 2 were due over a month ago. The outstanding balance is $6,625. My client is not refusing to pay, everyone is thrilled with the work I did, and there are zero disputes to the amount owed. He’s a wealthy man “waiting on investment money to come in”. Meanwhile I’ve had to suspend my car payment, and other financial responsibilities in order to eat.

I’m concerned I might not have very many options. There was not a contract, just an estimate that included the payment agreement. I’m also guessing that even if there was a contract it would cost more

Asked on September 15, 2015 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can sue your client for the money he owes you. You should sue on 3 separate grounds or causes of action
1 Breach of contract even if it was an oral not written contract, there was an agreement for him to pay you for doinf work, providing a service or product, etc. That agreement is enforceable.
2 Promissory estoppel if he induced you to do work by promising to pay you and it was reasonable to rely on his promise, that is sometimes enough for a court to hold the promise enforceable.
3 Unjust enrichment the law generally will not let him keep the benefits or fruits of your work without paying.
Saying that he is himself waiting for a payment, disbursement, investment, etc. is not a legal defense to the obligation to pay.
If the business is an LLC or corporation, you sue the business itself. Otherwise, you sue the owners.


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