My father is a self employed and sole employee of a small electrical
installation/repair company in Ohio. Recently he had an accident and
sustained a serious head injury-one that has impaired his memory. We
don't know when or if he will recover completely. He is 63 yo and we
suspect this is a career ending injury. At the time of his accident,
he had a few contracts for jobs that have either not been started or
have just started. My question regards the legality of terminating the
contract before work fulfillment. Can we just walk away from the
contract without consequences? There isn't any language in the
contract regarding termination at either of the party's discretion.
The short answer is that he should consult an attorney. Technically,
if whoever had hired him incurs additional expenses because your
father breached the contract, then he is liable for for the additional
expenses. In reality, he or you should just call the parties involved
and tell them what's up--hard to imagine anyone suing for breach of
contract in his circumstances. Especially since the cost of a lawsuit
would likely exceed the damages. Also hard to imagine a judge, jury,
or arbitrator deciding against a brain injured 63 year old. I think
you can rest easy.
No, the short answer is your father can be sued by anybody that cares to sue
at any point in time and for any damn reason. According to your story he can
and probably will be sued and he will lose his @ss for not being insured and
In case you don't know there are several types of construction bonds which
are sold as a form of insurance. The performance bond guarantees the
insurance company will hire somebody to take responsibility for all unmet
obligations when a debilitating injury occurs to somebody like your father.
Unless your father had a bond he will lose his @ss should anybody choose to
sue for non-performance. There is no question about this.
Now it probably won't matter if he looses his @ss anyway since he's lost his
mind already but what I just told you are the facts of life and I'm sorry to
learn about this but one way or another its going to be costly in time and
perhaps money to cope with his unmet obligations..
If your father is not bonded I urge you to listen to me and at least get
started by doing exactly what is being said. Get all of his papers and all
records he may have for every job he was involved with over the last couple
of years. I mean all paper work he was involved with before becoming injured
too. If he gets sued he will need the documentation anyway.
Document exactly what happened to him going to the point of printing out
helpful articles with pictures or diagrams from the web that explain how his
type of injury is serious and so on and so forth. You have to show
credibility and prove he is really suffering okay?
Meet with each and every customer who has unfinished business and explain to
them what is going on. Ask them not to sue and if possible have them put it
in writing too. This is going to be very very difficult for you and I wish
you the best but again, if he is not bonded a good faith effort is about all
you have going for you right now.
Generally speaking, there won't be any costs to speak of for a plaintiff to
sue. Its the defendant that is burdened with excessive costs when lawyers
find out he wasn't bonded as it will be the lawyers that will make sure they
get paid first. I mean what the f*ck? You don't get it yet? You're not from
the jewnited states or what? We don't have a humane justice system here.
What we do have is insurance companies, lawyers and the courts to determine
who gets paid.
Wake up and get to work. Wish you both well...
Learn how to read sh!t for brains. Read it again over and over until it
Furthermore, you obviously have no experience in the real world or you would
not have to assume and you would already know there aren't going to be any
damages awarded unless it can be shown the old guy hit himself on the head
on purpose to avoid his responsibilities.
As I said -- in general -- the plaintiff can file for peanuts. Any
meaningful expenses are going to be coughed up to pay the blood suckers to
plead before the court so the procedural concerns are explicitly managed. I
didn't want to start soundling like I was giving advice because we live in a
police state with no freedom and no liberty but the son is going to be told
to have his father declared indigent by divesting himself of all personal
property. After proving the father is still of sound mind -- which will
require hiring another blood sucker -- the son can then be appointed as his
father's guardian and file for bankruptcy in his father's behalf.
There's twists and turns but that is the future of this father and son who
have met misfortune.. For example one twist is a federal law that forbids
divesting one's self of all property for any reason when a commerical debt
is incurred. If any projects were in another state than the state where the
father pays taxes there will further complications which will result in
paying a different group of blood suckers.
So why not just shut the ol' pie hole and pay attention?
To the OP: I hope you're not paying attention to this nut (his name
says it all as far as credibility goes!) . Call an attorney to find
out the specifics in your state. It won't cost that much, and the
peace of mind will be worth it.
I agree with this guy. We're talking small potatoes here. 99.9% of all
people have too much going on in their lives to be bothered suing a
disabled tradesman who can't undertake their work because of a brain
injury. Also, that same 99.9% have the common decency and moral makeup
which would preclude them from taking such action. Assuming they could
even find an attorney to undertake the case, it would be laughed out of
The remaining .1%, shit stirrers like the demented poster, would jump at
the chance to kick somebody when they are down. Just look at the shrill
tone he took with the original poster when the guy was merely looking
for some sane, sober advice. He's the kind of guy who would sue.
I fully expect that his tirade will now be directed at me simply because
I called him out for just what he is. I'm going to ignore him and I
advise the original poster to do the same.
To the OP:
It would not hurt to speak to an attorney. My guess is that he will
put your mind at ease. First of all, it appears that he was
subcontracting for a company rather than contracting directly with
individuals. Was the company able to find another electrician to take
over his work? If so, you have no problem. Was he paid up front for
work not performed? If so, you are no doubt obligated to refund such
payments. Obviously, the first thing to do is contact the company he
was doing the work for and see where they stand on the issue.
Good luck and best wishes to your Dad.
Also consider that no sensible lawyer would take a case where the odds
of recovery of anything is remote. (That is where there is no
insurance). Courts are loath to find against a defendant where the
circumstances are beyond their control, courts are loath to find
against a defendant when such a finding would simple render them wards
of the state (on welfare...), and so on.
My personal recommendations are:
1. Contact a good, respected, but not necessarily expensive lawyer and
pay for an hour's advise. That will be (perhaps) a few hundred
dollars, and maybe be free.
2. Talk to the other parties! Getting them to understand the situation
is vital. If you don't talk to them they will assume the worse (they
are being ripped off) and react accordingly. As well, talking
(especially earlier) helps to mitigate their losses, as that gives
them time to line up a new contractor. Regardless, if they have paid
anything for either materials or services that have not yet been
rendered that money will *have* to be refunded. There's no option
there, either legally or morally. You can't keep their money and
expect to walk away from the job.
Call some of your dads close contacts, other contractors for instance and
ask for a personal favour for your dad. If he has friends in his trade, they
might be willing to take on the extra work to help him out of this bind.
Is your father's company bonded under these contracts?
For the most part, that's what the bond is for. That is, to fulfill the
contract if the contractor (your father) fails to complete the work per the
It would be a good idea to see if you or your father can find a competent
replacement to do the work, before getting the surety (bonding company)
involved. If a claim is filled against your fathers bonds, he stands a good
chance of never being bonded again, or at least not without a heavy price
Walking away from the contracts us not a good idea. Try to work it out with
the owners first. Under these circumstances, I would think a reasonable
owner would resolve this amicably.
I'd also take a closer look at the language of the contract your father is
Good luck and a speedy recovery for your father.
As some people have said without a clause in the contract you are open to
on the other hand what you need to do right away is
mitigate your damages
Notify the people concerned immediately by certified mail and tell them that
due to serious medical problems the contract can not be fulfilled
and if any money was put down on the contract you should write a check and
return their money
on the check put cancelation of contract #0005 prepaymen funds returned in
If the other party cashes the check then they have legaly relieved you of
If they decide to call you on this and make problems for you
you have to decide is it worth the trouble fighting or do you pay them off.
In your case I would suggest you fight the bastards
First you need to return their money as said or at least mail the check
you may even want to have a lawyer mail the check
with similar wording as I suggested
Then you should put a notice in 2 different newspapers that do to medical
problems your father will not be rendering services all concerned parties
should contact you.
Another option is for you to meet with the parties personally but you need
to return any money paid for unfinnished work and you need to walk away with
something signed by them that says the contract is canceled.
Most people with a heart or brain will not screw with you if you have a real
medical problem and you have performed work for them in the past and if you
have returned any money for work that you have not completed.
This is my basic idea on your problem
you did not say what type of contracts you had
and if your father had recieved any money up front.
Basically you have to give them the option to look like good people while
still leaving open the option that maybe in the future your father may
return to work.
If they screw you
then you have to screw them back
You have to prove you offered to give them back all moneys
you have to document all of your conversations and corospondance
if they still wont come to terms then you can picket their business
just check local regulations first and make sure you are not on their
but it is a real option that you should not count out
and maybe call the local newspaper and tv station
i am sure they need a piece like this to offset the War or Local Murders.
next time put in the contract that you or the other party has the right to
cancel the contract prior to work being done or for medical or other reasons
out of your controll like Floods acts of God and Flying monkeys but the
money will be returned minus a fee if they cancel.
If you have an attorney familiar with contracts, it's worth a phone
call...to find the best route.
I can't speak to Ohio contract law, but there likely is a difference
a contract being breached because one party * failed* or refused to
perform .. and a contract being frustrated because one party is
*unable* to perform.
Two better bets: Does your father have any buddy electricians who
could take over the contracts for him? Have you contacted the other
parties to see if -- in the circumstances -- they would release your
father from them?
I'd find it hard to understand why any business or homeowner would not
release an injured electrician from an agreement.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.