Q: Should I get a lawyer involved?
Was roped into a 55,000 contract for solar panels because they made me sign for the paper copy of the contract. Didn't know I was signing the actual contract. Now they came to install solar panels did half the job and left. Ive been calling for over a month and just found out the company went out of business. I still don't have the solar panels up and working and am on the line for paying the 55,000. I just want out of this nightmare.
A: Yes. Hire a lawyer and sue the seller and manufacturer for breach of contract.
Almost certainly. You clearly have claims for breach of contract, but you might also have claims under Wisconsin’s theft by contractor statute. All monies paid to a contractor by an owner for improvements constitute a trust fund in the hands of the contractor. These monies can only be used for labor, services, materials, plans, and specifications for the improvements. You have not received all of the goods and services, so it is highly unlikely that the monies have been used as required by the statute. Improper use constitutes theft by the contractor and by any officers, directors, members, partners, or agents responsible for the misappropriation.
You may also be able to recover any monies which they have received as a salary, dividend, loan repayment, capital distribution or otherwise by any shareholder, member, or partner, even if such persons were not aware of the misappropriation.
If you can prove a claim for theft by contractor, you may be able to recover treble damages. The theft by contractor statute, 779.02(5), refers to the criminal theft statute, 943.20, and civil claims under that statute qualify for treble damages under 895.80.
You might also very well have a claim under Wisconsin’s Administrative Code ATCP 110, which outlines requirements for contracts between homeowners and home improvement contractors. The goal is to protect consumers by ensuring that they have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions of their home improvement contract.
You probably have other claims, such as unjust enrichment or quantum meruit, but your question does not provide enough facts to fully analyze those.
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