Author Topic: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?  (Read 2235 times)

shouldisue

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A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« on: February 05, 2021, 10:21:07 PM »
Tl;dr: Should I sue Angry Plow Guy?

Made a new account for this; hope that is permissible.

The Story: I'm out of state when the blizzard hits New York. My regular snow removal guy leaves me high and dry. Heís overstretched himself this year, his first in business. He has some elderly clients who are snowed in and is just one guy with a shovel/blower, so Iím on the back burner. Okay, fine, but it would have been nice to hear from you, regular guy, rather than from testy neighbors on day 3 of snowmageddon 2021. But, thatís a separate issue.

The real issue begins with a call to a company I've used in the past. Iím hoping for emergency service, but they are booked solid. They give me a name, however, likely a brother or cousin of the owner (same last name), who Iíll call Angry Plow Guy. I ring APG that morning, who agrees to help me out.

APG calls later in the evening to say they've arrived, but the neighbors are getting in his manís face about something, telling him how to do his job. Iím not sure what the issue is (all I know is that APG has been pretty gruff in all our interactions) but ask him to keep the peace and to please just make sure the sidewalks are passable in order to stop the fines that are surely coming my way. An hour or so later I get a text from APG that the sidewalks and driveway are done. Great.

The next morning, I get a text from neighbors. Seems they were worried about their car during the plowing (we share a very tight driveway), which explains the confrontation. APG was a maniac, according to them. Iím friendly with one half of the couple, so-so with the other (sheís nice, but seems frosty, so I try to keep to myself). I offer to pay for any damages or to have their car dug out, but they explain that there are no issues on their side.

My side, on the other hand, didn't fare so well. The damage to the fence (a four-foot, wooden picket-type barrier) doesnít look that bad from the pictures. There are a few missing pickets and some gouging of the rails. I can fix the pickets and live with the rail gouging. At least I wonít have to pay APG, I think to myself.

A day later, I get a text from APG requesting $80 by Venmo to be paid to a third individual. I send the picture of the damage, say I can take care of the repairs, and suggest we call it even. APG does not like this idea. He, uh, ďexplainsĒ that the job was last minute and that there was 2 feet of snow, so he didnít know where anything was and ďitís not his problemĒ. My own feeling is that the fence is 4 feet high and definitely visible among the drifts and that APG could have taken the 3 minutes needed to survey the vast expanse of my lot's 45-foot frontage before ramming his plow in (or perhaps, you know, asked me about potential issues), but I do not tell APG any of this because he also offered to deposit a dump truck's load of snow at the foot of our shared driveway, should I decide that I did not find value in his services. Based on our phone/text conversations so far, I have no reason to doubt him. Iím 2000 miles away and the neighbors are already testy, so I send the $80, daring only to add that I didnít realize I needed to specifically ask him not to knock down my fence.

Whatís Next? Seems obvious to me that he should pay for the fence. Forget the quick DIY job and living with the damage. The fence pickets can probably be salvaged, but the rails should be replaced. Iíll get a quote from a company I used to replace another portion. Iím estimating around $500.

I guess Iím looking at small claims? I know the neighbors would back me up. And I have their texts saying he worked like a maniac and caused the damage. But I had no formal contract with Angry Plow Guy, just some texts where we coordinate the removal and then discuss the damage. I can't find much of an online presence for him, but searching his name and number brings up a home address. And he seems to run or (work for) a local excavating company.

How to proceed? Many sites recommend a ďDemand LetterĒ where I ask for payment before filing suit, but NY doesnít seems to require it, and I donít think a demand letter would be well received by APG, and Iíd feel (rightly or wrongly) safer by going formal/legal right off the bat. Like physically safer. As I mention, dude seems angry. But also, like, fuck bullies. And also x2, I've never sued anyone before, despite it being my birthright as a US American.

So I am tentatively thinking of:
  • Getting quote to fix fence.
  • Setting up security cameras.
  • Leaving negative Yelp, Facebook, Google feedback for company who referred me to APG.
  • Suing APG.
  • Having fence fixed when spring arrives.

Questions for the MMM forum: Am I the asshole? Should I just forget about this? Am I going to be on the hook for any fees if I lose the case? Should I leave referring company out of this? Should I send the demand letter because I secretly hope it might bait him into aggravated harassment in the second degree? Does the threat to dump snow constitute said harassment?

Epilogue: To his credit(?), regular guy shows up the night after APGís attack on my fence and calls me expressing disgust at the hack job that APG did on my sidewalk. Apparently regular guy holds himself to a high standard of workmanship, even if his communication skills are lacking. Regular guy cleans up the sidewalk, which I hope neighbors appreciate.

MoseyingAlong

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2021, 11:08:16 PM »
I recommend considering this post your cathartic venting and let it go.

Call (not internet review) the referring company and let them know how their referral turned out.
Remember that this was 3 days into a massive snow event and APG was probably super tired. Also remember those fines you were trying to avoid/stop.
Ask your regular guy for a suggestion on whom to call if he doesn't show up. Maybe that will move you higher up the list for action or, at least, communication. Or maybe your neighbors have a suggestion. If it's a shared driveway, I'd think they have a stake in this.

Consider whether you want to spend any more of your finite time and energy on this. My vote would be no. Fix the fence in the spring and let it go. (And I have not actually seen the movie.)

All this from someone who has never had to hire a snow remover nor has any idea how much the fines are for not removing snow. I'll be enjoying my mid-70s, sunny weather tomorrow.

Hope this is the worst that happens with your place this winter.

Duke03

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2021, 12:10:10 AM »
I'd pay the $80 and move on.  One thing I've learned in life is don't let someone live rent free in your head.  Trust me APG forgot about you the second he got your $80 don't waste any more of your time thinking about that clown.

SimpleCycle

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2021, 05:41:00 AM »
APG did you a huge favor by coming out with no notice to fix your problem, and you owe him $80.  Pay him.  Donít sue him, fix your fence in the spring and move on.

Normal snow removal contracts almost always exclude damage to things the company wasnít able to come out and mark ahead of time for exactly this reason.  Itís very difficult to see where everything is under TWO FEET of snow.  In the Law and Order episode version of this, APG would call a snow removal expert witness to the stand, who states that your fence was hard to see in the snow and therefore there was no negligence on the part of APG. The judge sides with APG and orders you to pay APGís legal costs and lost wages as a punishment for filing a frivolous $500 lawsuit.

In real life, the most likely scenario is you file in small claims, and he files a countersuit against you for the unpaid plow fee.  No one has any expert witnesses, itís your word against his, and Iíd give it an 80% chance the judge gives the benefit of the doubt to the person who was actually out there in two feet of snow.

norajean

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2021, 06:37:09 AM »
An angry man with a truck is no worth suing for $500.  He can make your life a lot more miserable than you can make his.  Move on.

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2021, 06:57:45 AM »
I don't know enough about the ins and outs of snow plowing to comment on whether you are at fault or not.

However, I wouldn't sue my worst enemy over $500. Don't do it. It's not worth it unless you will starve without the money.

RWD

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2021, 08:21:44 AM »
Not worth the hassle for $500

ChickenStash

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2021, 08:53:13 AM »
I wouldn't bother suing. At best, it'll waste more than 500 worth of time just doing the paperwork and dealing with the courts. Write it off as a lesson in finding a better backup-plow-guy.


cool7hand

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2021, 10:03:49 AM »
You have every right to be upset about this. Because this is a contract, contract law governs. Contract law provides that you should get the benefit of what you bargained for.

Snow removal. APG might have done a poor job, but you never negotiated what standard to use to measure a good job. In the absence of a negotiated standard, most courts would probably apply a reasonable professional standard. So maybe you could recover the difference between what $80 should have got you with a reasonable professional and an unreasonable professional. But absent an agreed upon standard, what is reasonable is pretty broad. So, I doubt you'd get anything here.

Breaking The Fence. You'd definitely be entitled to recover for the damage to your fence. No reasonable professional breaks a fence. It's not your job to provide a survey of the property. A reasonable snow removal professional is responsible for scouting out the property and not damaging it. Of course, a reasonable professional would not be required to find something hidden. But a fence ain't hidden.

Practical Considerations. Court doesn't make a lot of sense for $80. Even in small claims, the filing fee will eat up most of that. Plus the time sink is not worth trying to recover the balance. You can't get pain and suffering or anything like that with a breach of contract case. And this isn't a punitive damages case. You'd accomplish much more with an honest, hyperbole- and invective-free review that you post at Yelp, Angie's List, Google, Facebook, etc. You'd be risking a defamation suit, but of course the truth is the best defense in a defamation suit. So, stick to the facts and have pictures/others to back you up. Put the pictures in the review!

If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't pay. I'd make APG sue me. If he had the gumption to do so, I'd countersue for the fence.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 10:16:29 AM by cool7hand »

MilesTeg

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2021, 11:17:06 AM »
Threatening to dump snow blocking your driveway has to be some sort of crime. I'm pretty sure no city allows dumping snow like that. I would make sure that threat is something the referring company is made aware of and possibly law enforcement.

former player

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2021, 11:20:43 AM »
Anti-mustachian behaviour on the part of OP adds up to -

1.  Owning a property where it snows but not being willing to shovel their own snow.
2.  Being 2,000 miles away, during a pandemic, when it snows.
3.  Hiring someone to do the job on the cheap (shovel and blower, no plow, first year in business) and not being present to check the work.
4.  Not having a back-up plan.
5.  Being desperate enough to take help offered without discussing details of job, which involves a narrow driveway, a white(?) picket fence hidden in snowdrifts and interfering neighbours.
6.  Trying to stiff the guy who stepped in to help at the last minute out of $80.

Please don't sue, and please don't leave a bad review for someone who was trying to do you a favour at short notice and ran into difficulties you didn't tell him about.

MilesTeg

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2021, 11:43:55 AM »
Anti-mustachian behaviour on the part of OP adds up to -

1.  Owning a property where it snows but not being willing to shovel their own snow.
2.  Being 2,000 miles away, during a pandemic, when it snows.
3.  Hiring someone to do the job on the cheap (shovel and blower, no plow, first year in business) and not being present to check the work.
4.  Not having a back-up plan.
5.  Being desperate enough to take help offered without discussing details of job, which involves a narrow driveway, a white(?) picket fence hidden in snowdrifts and interfering neighbours.
6.  Trying to stiff the guy who stepped in to help at the last minute out of $80.

Please don't sue, and please don't leave a bad review for someone who was trying to do you a favour at short notice and ran into difficulties you didn't tell him about.

This post is a load of crap.

SimpleCycle

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2021, 11:59:18 AM »
Threatening to dump snow blocking your driveway has to be some sort of crime. I'm pretty sure no city allows dumping snow like that. I would make sure that threat is something the referring company is made aware of and possibly law enforcement.

You think the threatening is a crime, or actually dumping snow is a crime?  I can't imagine what criminal law would be violated by threatening to dump snow on someone's driveway.  Actually dumping the snow is probably a civil infraction.

MilesTeg

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2021, 12:08:57 PM »
Threatening to dump snow blocking your driveway has to be some sort of crime. I'm pretty sure no city allows dumping snow like that. I would make sure that threat is something the referring company is made aware of and possibly law enforcement.

You think the threatening is a crime, or actually dumping snow is a crime?  I can't imagine what criminal law would be violated by threatening to dump snow on someone's driveway.  Actually dumping the snow is probably a civil infraction.

I would be really surprised if it were not a violation of some law or code (I used the word crime which I know doesn't apply to all types of law breaking) to dump snow on somebody's property and/or city property. I'm not saying its a high crime but almost certainly contrary to law/code. Not only the act is likely a violation but being done with malicious intent probably makes it worse.. Thus threatening to do that is also a violation of law.

Such things are not a proper or tolerable way to try to resolve a dispute and absolutely should be reported to at least the referring company.

Fishindude

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2021, 12:22:40 PM »
Pay the guy and move on.   He's not exactly getting rich working round the clock cleaning snow and wearing out trucks.  He did you a favor coming on short notice with no contract.
You kinda got yourself into this problem by making a deal with cheap Chuck with a snow blower and shovel, rather than hiring a good professional outfit that would be more costly.

Next year, bite the bullet and get a contract with a good professional outfit.  Also, clearly mark your driveway perimeters with snow plowing guides so they don't hit stuff.

SimpleCycle

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2021, 12:25:56 PM »
Threatening to dump snow blocking your driveway has to be some sort of crime. I'm pretty sure no city allows dumping snow like that. I would make sure that threat is something the referring company is made aware of and possibly law enforcement.

You think the threatening is a crime, or actually dumping snow is a crime?  I can't imagine what criminal law would be violated by threatening to dump snow on someone's driveway.  Actually dumping the snow is probably a civil infraction.

I would be really surprised if it were not a violation of some law or code (I used the word crime which I know doesn't apply to all types of law breaking) to dump snow on somebody's property and/or city property. I'm not saying its a high crime but almost certainly contrary to law/code. Not only the act is likely a violation but being done with malicious intent probably makes it worse.. Thus threatening to do that is also a violation of law.

Such things are not a proper or tolerable way to try to resolve a dispute and absolutely should be reported to at least the referring company.

That's not how the laws around threats work, at least in the U.S.

Anyway, I don't think APG handled it well, and I don't think OP is handling it well either.  He'd be within his rights to go to small claims court over this, and the court can determine the facts and apply the law.  I don't think it's a cut and dry win for the OP, although others disagree.  But I think there is broad consensus that pursuing a lawsuit for $500 in damages is not worth it.  Chalk it up to "shit happens" a get a real written contract from someone bonded and insured next time.

@cool7hand is right that OP has the option to not pay the bill and let APG come after him in small claims court.  It's not what I would do, but it's a reasonable middle path between paying for the work and suing APG.

MilesTeg

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2021, 12:51:41 PM »
Threatening to dump snow blocking your driveway has to be some sort of crime. I'm pretty sure no city allows dumping snow like that. I would make sure that threat is something the referring company is made aware of and possibly law enforcement.

You think the threatening is a crime, or actually dumping snow is a crime?  I can't imagine what criminal law would be violated by threatening to dump snow on someone's driveway.  Actually dumping the snow is probably a civil infraction.

I would be really surprised if it were not a violation of some law or code (I used the word crime which I know doesn't apply to all types of law breaking) to dump snow on somebody's property and/or city property. I'm not saying its a high crime but almost certainly contrary to law/code. Not only the act is likely a violation but being done with malicious intent probably makes it worse.. Thus threatening to do that is also a violation of law.

Such things are not a proper or tolerable way to try to resolve a dispute and absolutely should be reported to at least the referring company.

That's not how the laws around threats work, at least in the U.S.

Anyway, I don't think APG handled it well, and I don't think OP is handling it well either.  He'd be within his rights to go to small claims court over this, and the court can determine the facts and apply the law.  I don't think it's a cut and dry win for the OP, although others disagree.  But I think there is broad consensus that pursuing a lawsuit for $500 in damages is not worth it.  Chalk it up to "shit happens" a get a real written contract from someone bonded and insured next time.

@cool7hand is right that OP has the option to not pay the bill and let APG come after him in small claims court.  It's not what I would do, but it's a reasonable middle path between paying for the work and suing APG.

It varies by state what constitutes a criminal threat. Regardless, even if not an actual crime in this jurisdiction it still needs to be reported to the company and if OP plans to take any legal action it should also be reported to the police as evidence in the event he carries out such threats.

I think, from an ethical standpoint, the case is pretty clear. The APG entered into a business arrangement (it was in no way a /favor/) to perform a job. The job was done negligently which resulted in property damage. Yes, negligently. Unless this fence was running through the middle of the driveway there was absolutely a reasonable expectation it would be avoided and not damaged even if not visible. The situation would be different if there was something not reasonably expected such as something on the driveway but hidden under the snow. Heck, if the fence was (strangely) literally tucked right up to the driveway it could be different, but the OP hasn't said that.

I can't speak to the legal chances of such a case though.

I wonder if this is something that OPs insurance company would deal with?

cool7hand

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2021, 03:28:54 PM »
Anti-mustachian behaviour on the part of OP adds up to -

1.  Owning a property where it snows but not being willing to shovel their own snow.
2.  Being 2,000 miles away, during a pandemic, when it snows.
3.  Hiring someone to do the job on the cheap (shovel and blower, no plow, first year in business) and not being present to check the work.
4.  Not having a back-up plan.
5.  Being desperate enough to take help offered without discussing details of job, which involves a narrow driveway, a white(?) picket fence hidden in snowdrifts and interfering neighbours.
6.  Trying to stiff the guy who stepped in to help at the last minute out of $80.

Please don't sue, and please don't leave a bad review for someone who was trying to do you a favour at short notice and ran into difficulties you didn't tell him about.

+1 on disagreeing with this (and anything else that suggests there is some dogmatic/religious way of being mustachian)

shouldisue

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2021, 05:19:32 PM »
I think the first reply pretty much nailed it. It's still not exactly what I want to hear 24 hours after the confrontation, but I've cooled down enough to see the wisdom. I'll plan to let it go unless the damage is worse than expected.

GuitarStv

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2021, 05:23:13 PM »
I think a huge part of the problem here is simply that this is all being done remotely.  If it was possible to talk face to face with the guy I suspect that things would seem a lot different and everyone would seem a lot more reasonable.

The guy came out at short call to fix an emergency for you.  He was probably pretty slammed with work from the recent dumping of snow, and was hustling to get things done.  Was he doing this job in the day, or at night (may have had a big impact on the visibility of the fence)?  Anyway, he gets there for the unfamiliar job and it sounds like it was a more complicated setup than he was expecting, with parked cars in a shared driveway.  A neighbour comes out and complains to him right away, and he probably tried to err on the side of caution, went too far into your yard and whacked the fence.

While the outcome sucks, you have to see where he's coming from demanding to be paid.  Personally, I'd give him the cash and then fix the fence myself - chalk it up to a learning experience.  (No way should it cost even close to 500$ in materials to fix a couple knocked off slats and some broken cross beams).  Next time have a trusted person looking after your home if you're away for extended periods of time (most insurance policies require this anyway if you're away for more than a couple days - and it would have been a lot more expensive if you needed insurance but it was denied because of vacancy).

MilesTeg

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2021, 05:53:15 PM »
I think a huge part of the problem here is simply that this is all being done remotely.  If it was possible to talk face to face with the guy I suspect that things would seem a lot different and everyone would seem a lot more reasonable.

The guy came out at short call to fix an emergency for you.  He was probably pretty slammed with work from the recent dumping of snow, and was hustling to get things done.  Was he doing this job in the day, or at night (may have had a big impact on the visibility of the fence)?  Anyway, he gets there for the unfamiliar job and it sounds like it was a more complicated setup than he was expecting, with parked cars in a shared driveway.  A neighbour comes out and complains to him right away, and he probably tried to err on the side of caution, went too far into your yard and whacked the fence.

While the outcome sucks, you have to see where he's coming from demanding to be paid.  Personally, I'd give him the cash and then fix the fence myself - chalk it up to a learning experience.  (No way should it cost even close to 500$ in materials to fix a couple knocked off slats and some broken cross beams).  Next time have a trusted person looking after your home if you're away for extended periods of time (most insurance policies require this anyway if you're away for more than a couple days - and it would have been a lot more expensive if you needed insurance but it was denied because of vacancy).

I guess next time a client calls me in to fix their website on short notice and its a bit more complicated than I thought I don't have to carefully do my work. If I screw up their server causing financial damage I guess I can just tell them: well, it's cheap to fix; I was tired brah!

Don't want to pay me? Fine, ill just pull the power cable on your production server.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 06:05:42 PM by MilesTeg »

Tester

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2021, 03:22:47 AM »
Just some food for thought: what are you trying to achieve by suing???
Get 500 usd?
Teach that person a lesson?
Get you manhood (even if you are a woman) noticed?
Not pay 80 usd?


Just think about those not polically correct questions...
I get it you are angry and I was angry in cases which might have been about more than 500 usd... I did not sue, I stopped and thought what I want to get out of the situation.


Let's say you win the trial for 500 usd- so what?
How much foes the lawyer cost?
How much does your stress cost?

I am asking about stress because from the long post you have written I think you are stressed about this-imagine the stress if you think the judge will not say you are right...

I hope my rant helps you make the right call :-).

Kris

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2021, 07:08:35 AM »
Just coming in to add that winning in small claims court means nothing. He could just not show up to court, and then ignore the ruling and never pay you. Nothing would happen to him. No one will enforce it.

Move on, and secure a better plowing outfit for next year.

sonofsven

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2021, 08:03:55 AM »
Just to note that winning in small claims is a little more than "nothing", at least in my state.
You can have the judgement recorded at the county and attached to real property, when the owner sells or refinances you will collect money owed, with interest in some cases.
I did this when I was working for a slum lord type when I was younger, he taught me how to do it.
Ironically I took my own landlords to small claims (they were slum lords in training). They never turned in any counter claims after they were served and so I won by default.
Five years later I got a call from a title company, they had a check for me .
It was worth it, they were jerks and tried to stiff me for over $2k.
However, in your case I would definitely not sue!
If the fence is damaged to the point of non functioning I would get a quote from a carpenter to repair the fence and ask if the snow removal guy would split the bill with you.
If he says no then so be it, no need to call him ever again.

GuitarStv

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2021, 09:45:23 AM »
I think a huge part of the problem here is simply that this is all being done remotely.  If it was possible to talk face to face with the guy I suspect that things would seem a lot different and everyone would seem a lot more reasonable.

The guy came out at short call to fix an emergency for you.  He was probably pretty slammed with work from the recent dumping of snow, and was hustling to get things done.  Was he doing this job in the day, or at night (may have had a big impact on the visibility of the fence)?  Anyway, he gets there for the unfamiliar job and it sounds like it was a more complicated setup than he was expecting, with parked cars in a shared driveway.  A neighbour comes out and complains to him right away, and he probably tried to err on the side of caution, went too far into your yard and whacked the fence.

While the outcome sucks, you have to see where he's coming from demanding to be paid.  Personally, I'd give him the cash and then fix the fence myself - chalk it up to a learning experience.  (No way should it cost even close to 500$ in materials to fix a couple knocked off slats and some broken cross beams).  Next time have a trusted person looking after your home if you're away for extended periods of time (most insurance policies require this anyway if you're away for more than a couple days - and it would have been a lot more expensive if you needed insurance but it was denied because of vacancy).

I guess next time a client calls me in to fix their website on short notice and its a bit more complicated than I thought I don't have to carefully do my work. If I screw up their server causing financial damage I guess I can just tell them: well, it's cheap to fix; I was tired brah!

Don't want to pay me? Fine, ill just pull the power cable on your production server.

Hmm.  Not entirely sure that your comparison makes much sense.  To fix a website on short notice you have to remote in to the server . . . something that doesn't require any real expenditure of money/time.  The guy with the plow has to spend time and money driving out to the work site.  Also, the amounts of money we're talking are very different.  How many 80$ jobs have you taken out of the blue from panicked people hosting sites where you don't even know the language the site is written in?  As a professional developer, you command a higher rate of pay, and your work is typically part of a negotiated and clear contract.  That's not always the case for shoveling snow.  Finally, if you fix an emergency problem on a website but in so doing introduce a new bug . . . how would you feel about the company offering to refuse to pay you and just calling things even?  I've been working in development a long time, and can't imagine that phone call going well - or doing anything but seriously pissing you off.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that what the plow guy did was right . . . just that I can understand where he was coming from.  I'd never hire the guy again, and would caution anyone I know not to hire him.  But the amount of money involved is just not worth fighting over, and there is a little blame for the situation that belongs to the home owner as well as the plow guy.

Cassie

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2021, 10:00:56 AM »
I am really surprised at all the replies to let it go. I once threatened a car dealership over 500 and in the end got my money. A friend of mine had 1k worth of damage from hitting a big dog that ran in front of her in the dark and had a big deductible. We got the dog out of the road and stayed with it until animal control came. Then the guy took her to small claims for vet bills. She counter sued for the deductible and won. He lost. He had to pay her monthly.

MilesTeg

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2021, 02:27:26 PM »

Hmm.  Not entirely sure that your comparison makes much sense.  To fix a website on short notice you have to remote in to the server . . . something that doesn't require any real expenditure of money/time.  The guy with the plow has to spend time and money driving out to the work site.  Also, the amounts of money we're talking are very different.  How many 80$ jobs have you taken out of the blue from panicked people hosting sites where you don't even know the language the site is written in?  As a professional developer, you command a higher rate of pay, and your work is typically part of a negotiated and clear contract.  That's not always the case for shoveling snow. 

APG was hired to do a job in a professional capacity. He was not doing a favor; he was not being coerced; he was not being forced. He willingly entered into a (informal) contract to perform a service in exchange for money. Standards of professionalism (both ethically and legally) absolutely apply no matter the service and no matter the money or overheads involved. APG performed the service negligently and owes OP for the damage caused. Now, whether or not it makes financial sense to hold him to that is a different matter, but ethically & legally APG has no ground to stand on.

While OP might not have presented it well, the compromise he proposed was not only reasonably but quite generous. APG guy did at least $80 in damage (likely more) yet OP offered to give the guy a break.

Quote
Finally, if you fix an emergency problem on a website but in so doing introduce a new bug . . . how would you feel about the company offering to refuse to pay you and just calling things even?  I've been working in development a long time, and can't imagine that phone call going well - or doing anything but seriously pissing you off.

It would never get to that point. If I performed something with negligence I would own that failure and fix the bug. It's called integrity.

Quote
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that what the plow guy did was right . . . just that I can understand where he was coming from.  I'd never hire the guy again, and would caution anyone I know not to hire him.  But the amount of money involved is just not worth fighting over, and there is a little blame for the situation that belongs to the home owner as well as the plow guy.

What did OP do wrong? Assume APG would be able to do the job he was hired to do without negligence?

APG had the opportunity to:
1.) ask for more information "hey this wasn't what I expected, is there anything near the driveway I should be careful of?:
2.) negotiate a no fault contract (even verbally) "Hey man, it might be really hard for me to do this without breaking that fence, I might break it. I'll do my best but I can't promise anything."
3.) refuse the job after taking a gander

Daley

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Re: A damaged face and an Angry Pillow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2021, 03:26:35 PM »
I have absolutely nothing of substance or genuine value to add to this thread, but I did want to mention something about the phrasing of the thread title itself. Every time it pops up on my unread list, I keep inadvertently misreading it and thinking you're talking about suing Mike Lindell for some sort of pillow-related injury, which makes me chuckle. That's all I got.

Good luck getting your plowing and fencing situation straightened out, OP.

six-car-habit

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2021, 08:39:33 PM »
 I would ask the neighbors how the fellow removed the snow from your sidewalk and driveway.  I would assume they used a walk-behing blower or a handshovel for the sidewalk.   Did they use a plow attached to a truck in the driveway area, which hit or pushed snow into the fence pickets ?

  or was it damaged by the hand operated plow ? .    If it was broken by the walk behind plow, maybe the pickets were weak ?   at least it sounds like the  '"structural and weight bearing " parts are ok...

ctuser1

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2021, 07:02:11 AM »
Tl;dr: Should I sue Angry Plow Guy?

I'm not a lawyer.

Please make sure you are legally allowed to "net" the cost for the damages to your fence, and the cost of the APG's shoveling work.

This can, in some contexts be a real issue.

e.g. in the context of landlord-tenant law, in CT, the courts expect landlords to promptly pay back the security deposit in case there are any questions about the tenant's liabilities, and then pursue damages separately. You aren't normally allowed to net - except in most egregious cases. That doesn't mean most LL's don't do it. I have had a particularly shady one get away with doing it based on baseless claims once. But the second time around it happened to me, I was prepared, sued back and had the LL bleed $10k+ in damages paid to me + lawyer fees.

So, I would first make sure you are not running afoul of any law/agreement/contract by trying to net these two things.

In your place, I would first pay out to the APG, leave factual reviews everywhere (nextdoor, google reviews, yelp etc.) for him + the business that gave you his name, AND then try to decide if I would like to sue in small claims @ the cost of $100 or so (don't remember exact amount) to file with zero expectation of actually getting paid back.


kite

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2021, 06:30:30 AM »
I think the first reply pretty much nailed it. It's still not exactly what I want to hear 24 hours after the confrontation, but I've cooled down enough to see the wisdom. I'll plan to let it go unless the damage is worse than expected.

Good plan. Nearly everyone is incredibly testy after a difficult year, and these storms are coming back-to-back making plenty of it even worse. 
The only bit I'd add is to maintain (as much as you can) a good relationship with the neighbors.  Perhaps find out who they use and try to get the same person.  Then if there is damage to their property, it won't be "your" plow guy, but "the" plow guy. 

Kroaler

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2021, 09:04:16 AM »
The concept of fines for not clearing your drive or sidewalk is soooooooo foreign to me living in the south.

FLBiker

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2021, 09:17:35 AM »
The concept of fines for not clearing your drive or sidewalk is soooooooo foreign to me living in the south.

I live in Canada and it's completely foreign to me, too.  Businesses in town are responsible for doing it, but not residents.

AMandM

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2021, 11:03:58 AM »
The concept of fines for not clearing your drive or sidewalk is soooooooo foreign to me living in the south.

I live in Canada and it's completely foreign to me, too.  Businesses in town are responsible for doing it, but not residents.
I grew up in Canada and had never heard of this until I moved to Maryland (which is the south, if you take the Mason-Dixon line as the border).

elaine amj

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2021, 12:00:22 PM »
The concept of fines for not clearing your drive or sidewalk is soooooooo foreign to me living in the south.

I live in Canada and it's completely foreign to me, too.  Businesses in town are responsible for doing it, but not residents.
I grew up in Canada and had never heard of this until I moved to Maryland (which is the south, if you take the Mason-Dixon line as the border).
In my part of Canada, residents are responsible for shovelling their section of the sidewalk. I think residents can get fined if they don't maintain it. My street doesn't have a sidewalk so I have not paid a lot of attention.

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ChickenStash

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2021, 01:36:17 PM »
In my corner of the upper midwest, the city expects anyone with a sidewalk (including corner ramps) to have it cleared and snow/ice free w/in 12 hours of the end of a snowfall. If they don't and someone complains, the city will do it and bill them $2/foot the first time then add $25-50 for repeat offenders. They don't care about private driveways.

That said, it's only based on a complaint so if you are in a less-travelled area most won't care it if takes a little while to get things clean. I've been late a few times and never had a problem. The few folks I know that were reported usually waited 2+ days.

Freedom2016

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Re: A damaged fence and an Angry Plow Guy. Time to sue?
« Reply #36 on: February 10, 2021, 10:33:55 AM »
OP, I really sympathize with your situation and perspective. You sound a little like me --- a person who cares a lot about justice and integrity and doing what's right and taking responsibility... and who gets extremely upset when people don't behave thusly.

I had a similar situation where I eventually sued someone in small claims court for crashing my car. I was righteously indignant and the judge ultimately sided with me. Yes! Moral victory! However, I had been obsessively dwelling on the situation for weeks leading up to the court date, to the detriment of my own emotional health during that time. Over those weeks I kept feeding my outrage and honing, crafting, and practicing my argument. Not a healthy obsession.

And then, guess what: the guy never paid up. In fact, at the second court date, a hearing to enforce payment, he showed up with a declaration of bankruptcy, with me at the bottom of a 10-page list of creditors. I was like #100 or something. What a mess of a human being. So I never got my money AND I wasted months letting the asshole dwell in my head.

In retrospect, I don't think the moral victory was worth all the angst.

So I agree most with the advice to pay the $80 and let it go... and stop letting APG live rent-free in your brain.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: February 10, 2021, 11:23:41 AM by Freedom2016 »