What are my legal options in regards to the situation I describe below? Am I legally obligated to pay? Can I technically ignore them?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my legal options in regards to the situation I describe below? Am I legally obligated to pay? Can I technically ignore them?


I am a financially-struggling college student who organized a 5-day global health
trip with an international organization based in Central America to provide
international volunteer work experience for my participants i.e fellow college
peers. I charge my participants and I pay this organization for setting up the
volunteer experience I am just the middle man. Long story short, the organization
I temporarily partnered with mistakenly made an error in their accounting
department and told me I had paid the invoice I owed in full, when in reality I only
paid 40 of what was promised. Fast forward 1 month after the trip has taken
place and they are contacting me they just discovered this mistake to pay the
other 60 6,000. I have not been communicating with them since, until I figure
out my options. I don’t have the money they demand as it has been spent. I do
have a voicemail recording and a PDF receipt from their representative
mistakenly stating I had made all outstanding payment.

Can they sue me or force me to pay? Feel free to banter on about ethics/morality
if it makes you feel better, but I am looking for a legal advice. Nothing more,
nothing less.


Asked on February 26, 2017 under Business Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends on what the terms or agreement was--that is, what cost were you initially told for the trip, and to what cost did you agree? If you agreed to pay, for example, $10,000 but only paid $4,000, they could sue you for the balance, even if they mistakenly told you that your partial payment was payment in full: you are contractually obligated to pay the full agreed-upon amount, and the law is clear that their error does not absolve you of that legal obligation. On the other hand, if you paid the full amount you'd agreed initially to pay, that is the contracted amount; they cannot demand more after the fact.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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