Is there an amount limit on a verbal contract?

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Is there an amount limit on a verbal contract?

I had a verbal contract with a mechanic shop to do work on my vehicle in exchange for me doing demo and concrete work for them. I was never given any invoices nor told amounts for any work done over the last 2 years. Now the owner whom I had the verbal contract with is telling me that he doesn’t have the money to complete his new building and wants me to pay my bill of over $9,000 in full instead of trading it for work which was the original agreement. He caused damage to my truck that took him 6 months to repair and now refuses to release my truck without payment in full.

Asked on June 19, 2012 under Business Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) Many states put an upper limit or dollar amount on oral (that's the better term than "verbal") agreements, but LA does not appear to do this, so there seems to be no amount limit.

2) If there was an agreement in place to trade repair for work or services, that agreement is enforceable; the owner may not unilaterally change the agreement or require you to pay money if the agreement had been for barter (of work). That's the  law; practically, if there is no written agreement and he claims that the oral agreement was for money, it may come down to who (you or him) is more credible in court.

3) If a shop damages a customer's vehicle, they are generally responsible for the damages  they caused or the cost of repair. You could potentially sue for compensation.

Since the shop appears to be trying to change the agreement, charge you amounts you are not obligated to pay, and also refuses to release your truck, you may wish to bring a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment (a court determination of what the agreement was actually for, and what you owe) and injunctive relief (a court order that the shop release your truck). Good luck.


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