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Re: Contractors Reputation

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Lynn,

I was tempted to comment on the plight of Dennis too. But you answered
probably better than I would have.

The problem with disputes is that they never (and I mean NEVER) seem to work
out the way you want them to. A job that I did over 25 years ago involved a
rather pain in the #@% kind of client, but the fee that I contracted for made
it worth it (Or so I thought).

The contract was for $18,000 to develop one commercial building under the
Santa Monica Freeway together with schematic drawings for four additional
buildings. Not bad 25 years ago! 

The schematics were prepared and delivered to the client. The plans and
engineering for the one building were completed and the client obtained a
building permit from the City of L.A. My billing went unanswered for the
schematics and the final payment on the plans and engineering. (This was in
my youth when I trusted clients).

Eventually the check in the mail never showed up and so I decided to sue. The
unpaid amount amounted to approx 50% of the total fee. The lawsuit was
answered with a "counter-claim" for $135,000 against me. My client claimed
the plans were no good and that he could not use anything that I had
delivered to him. In addition he claimed that I had "delayed" him and that he
was losing rent on the completed facilities that he hadn't built yet.

We went to court and the final result that I won a judgement for my fees,
less my attorneys fee which translated into the fact that I would have been
better off just walking away. The lesson to Dennis is:
This is a poor business to be in when the relationship is not strong with the
client. In most events when their is any controversy of any kind the
relationship breaks down with the client and the engineer loses. It is sad
but a fact of life.

Obviously, over the years I have revised my contracts to take care of some of
these problems, but even so I take some lumps, just like the bulk of the
engineers do. 

Move on!

Best regards,

             John Ott