San Diego, CA asked in Business Law, Contracts and Intellectual Property for California

Q: Should I respond to an old client who had not paid invoices and just resurfaced offering to pay? Or best via a lawyer?

This was a startup company. The president was a very difficult scheming person to deal with. He paid the majority of my invoices to him early but later on in the relationship did not, and when I ceased work irately criticized me. He claimed he did not have the money to pay me but paid patent lawyers and patented work excellent work I did. We had a contract assigning rights to the company in exchange for the compensation (which was actually too little). Over the next years he has done more patents and actually patented my work he did not pay for. Since then I have improved business practices to avoid such situations when possible. Also I have some hardware that I was using for the project that mostly I had to purchase and held onto when he breached our terms. He just sent me an email offering to pay me (no interest or consideration of lateness) for the unpaid amounts (5 years later). I'm assuming he wants something. Is it best to not respond, or use a lawyer? I do not trust this person.

1 Lawyer Answer
Yelena Gurevich
Yelena Gurevich
  • Studio City, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You say it's 5 years later. in California, you have 4 years to enforce (i.e. sue on) a breach of written contract. Since you did not sue him within the statute of limitations, you have no legal way to collect. So if he's offering to pay you, take the money and run. You can spend money on a lawyer to draft letters and try to collect for you but not sure why you would do that since there is no legal grounds for a lawsuit.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.