What to do if I own a small automotive repair shop and am being sued by a former customer and “friend”?

UPDATED: May 9, 2015

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What to do if I own a small automotive repair shop and am being sued by a former customer and “friend”?

He’s claiming that I caused damage to his vehicle motor, surface rust that occurred when he decieded to ship his car from my shop to another. He’s claiming that I was negligent because I didn’t wrap his motor for the trip. Also is accusing me of losing parts for his car. An inventory of the customers parts were not made until the car reached a 3rd shop. Unfortunately on my behalf there was no written agreement this was all done via hand shakes and good will. I do have pictures from the customer that he has posted on social media and text messages, What can I do to protect my business (DBA) and defend myself? I’ve never been sued before.

Asked on May 9, 2015 under Business Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Even if you're in the right, defending a lawsuit can be expensive--you'd be well-advised to hire an attorney, for example--and is not certain: even good cases lose sometimes. (Especially when there is no written documentation or agreement.) If the amount he is seeking is not excessive, you might be best off settling the case for some mutually agreeable amount--or, even better, by giving him free repairs to set the conditions right. If you can't settle, if the amount is less than $3,000, you are probably best off trying to defend it yourself, since you are a DBA and can do so, since a lawyer's fees would cost as much or more than the lawsuit; if the amount is more than $3,000, you should retain an attorney to help you.

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