What can I do to get back my deposit from a taxidermist?

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What can I do to get back my deposit from a taxidermist?

About 14 months ago I gave a taxidermist a deposit and the head of a deer for him to create a mount for me. I do have a receipt which does state that there is no completion date given and all work is done at the owner’s risk. Then 2 months ago I attempted to call him looking for a completion date. I’ve left numerous messages and he doesn’t return any of my calls. I would like to get my deposit back and the deer head and take it to another taxidermist but I don’t know what legally I can do.

Asked on February 17, 2012 under Business Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You would sue him on the contract or agreement (even if only an oral one) between you, that he would mount the head in exchange for a certain payment. If there was an offer by him to do this, agreement by you to the offer, and consideration--for example, the payment of a deposit--there is an enforceable agreement. You could therefore sue for compensation and/or to recover the head and deposit.

Where certain terms and conditions of the agreement are not set out explicitly--like a completion date--courts will try to determine the intention of the parties at the time they made the agreement. In doing this, courts may look to industry norms or standards--so, for example, to see if the work is overdue, a court may look at how long this would typically take the average taxidermist, or the usual completion date for projects of this type.

You may be able to sue in small claims court, where the filing fees are lower and you can act act your own attorney.


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