Harleybeachbride
Master May 2017

Experience in small claims court?

Harleybeachbride, on September 3, 2017 at 5:43 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 60
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Since my wedding in May, I have been working through a very unpleasant experience with one of my wedding vendors. Some of you may recall my dissatisfaction with my wedding photographer (AKA: the CROC hunter) who I am now taking to small claims court because she didn't care to take any accountability and was unprofessional when I approached her about it. My court date is in just a few weeks, and I wonder if any of you may have experience in small claims court (be it a wedding vendor or otherwise) or maybe you know someone who has been through it? If so, I would love to hear your experiences (good or bad) and/or any tips you may want to share? This was the last thing that I wanted to be dealing with and worse....to have associated with the best day of my life but on principal alone, I decided that I must see it through. Any advice or words of encouragement would be much appreciated! Smiley smile

60 Comments

Latest activity by Tara, on March 23, 2019 at 5:32 PM
  • Lindsay
    Dedicated October 2018
    Lindsay ·
    • Flag

    Physical documentation will go a long ways in small claims. We take customers who stop paying to court quite frequently, and we end up getting most of what we ask for since we have invoices and proof that we attempted contacting them.

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  • muriel
    Champion June 2018
    muriel ·
    • Flag

    Have your case in order. Nothing is more irritating to a judge than someone who shows up unprepared and thinks the judge will just take their word for it.

    Make a binder with your documents and copies that you can give to the judge.

    Print out text messages if you plan to use those as part of your argument.

    Be able to explain in a concise, chronological manner, what happened.

    • Reply
  • VC
    Super April 2018
    VC ·
    • Flag

    I have no advice whatsoever, but good luck! I hope this works out for you!

    • Reply
  • Kathleen Smith
    Kathleen Smith ·
    • Flag

    Yes, I remember you post Harleybeachbride. My advice :

    - keep it non emotional and stick to the facts

    - do this with documentation. For example, "Our venue was chosen because of the natural backdrop it provided. We asked our photographer if she had photographed here before and she said ____. We then told her that the natural backdrop was important to us and if she understood that we wanted the ocean as our backdrop. She said ____. The day of, the few images she took with the natural backdrop did not turn out. Seen here in these photos. She then moved us to a location that was easier for her to light. However this resulted with us not having the backdrop we wanted. It is very clear, based on these pictures we are submitting and the conversations we had regarding our expectations to have the ocean in the backdrop and the photographer's acknowledgment of our expectations, that the photographer did not follow through and mislead us."

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  • Kathleen Smith
    Kathleen Smith ·
    • Flag

    With regards to her appearsnce and the smell of pot, I would present quotes from those guests and their signature next to those quotes. If the photographer has anything in her contract regarding appearance, get that documented.

    Do you have any pics of the photographer that you can present?

    Any video footage that has her saying anything that would help you?

    Because she came highly recommended from another photographer, perhaps this other photographer could chime in (Don't hold your breat but it's worth it to ask him).

    • Reply
  • Kathleen Smith
    Kathleen Smith ·
    • Flag

    I remember your original post. I am sorry it has come to needing to take her to court but wowza, she did a number at your wedding and at the very least needs to own own up to that. Because she is not owning up to it, this is the next step.

    Good luck Harleybeachbride. You have a lot if support here. Keep it as un emotional as you can and have tons of documentation, signatures, and pictures.

    Keep us posted.

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  • Ohheyitscait
    Super September 2017
    Ohheyitscait ·
    • Flag

    Sometimes it's unwise to post about it in forums or to talk about cases. Idk, my friends are lawyers.

    Document everything and stick to the facts. Hope it goes well!

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @Lindsey, Kathleen & Muriel - agreed and I will be printing evidence by way of collages showing pics from my venues website displaying beautiful views of the ocean captured from inside out the walls of windows (which is the sole reason we booked there) and of guest pics capturing the ocean along side her "pro" pics that are all complete white outs. There were other issue's that will be tougher to prove or may be subjective such as her unprofessional and super informal appearance and strong odor of pot coming from her but in the end... pictures don't lie and I'll provide ample proof in the pictures. I'm hoping that will be enough. I will also provide affadavits but they may not be entered in but was encouraged to bring. Unfortunately two of my key witnesses who were present in the bridal suite the second she arrived (admitting she was late, and immediately smelled pot on her too) cannot make the court date but I'll still go as her attorney has to approved a postponement which I'm not banking on him doing.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @ohheyitscait- thank you. :+) I've made sure never to mention her name and or show her watermark publicly on pics (tho as i understand it, I do have a right to free speech and it was my experience, so not slanderous) but I've chosen to take the high road (no pun intended!) and haven't even left a bad review just yet as i wanted to see it thru to the end first but it is my right to do so, and could help future brides and grooms avoid the disaster I experienced.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @Kathleen - I feel as though that will be my number one challenge, trying to keep emotion out of it!! I feel duped by her, and on the most important day of my life it's tough to keep emotions in check but you're right, that is exactly what I need to do. Can you say VALIUM!?!? LOL

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    Hey OG! Thank you for commenting. Many guests smelled her but can't all go I'll have affadavits from a few, and my venue coordinator as to her appearance, and showing up late. A couple of pro photogs on WW here also agreed to write on my behalf attesting to the bad quality pics. She actually hired an attorney and he has been trying to scare me off by saying if I go thru it he'll be forced to sue ME for slander and harassment, which is crazy. How have I slandered her by expressing my experience and dissatisfaction with her service, neither of which rise to the level of harassment OR slander... would you agree?

    • Reply
  • Kathleen Smith
    Kathleen Smith ·
    • Flag

    I think her lawyer is tryng to scare you, make you fade away quietly. I do not think he could prove slander; you haven't gone public with her name/website/etc.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @OG - at the end of the day the main issue was the pictures came out horrible... something that we can not redo. I am hoping that the documentation that being the pictures my guests took and pictures from my venues site (clearly capturing the ocean from inside) and all of her pictures are all bright white and blown out because she didnt know how to use a flash or meter for light. I'm hoping that will be enough the rest of it like you said is he said she said and I don't expect her to admit she was stoned, but I will speak to my experience regardless because it is all relevant to the totality of the circumstances. Am I right in how I'm approaching this?

    • Reply
  • earias
    Champion December 2017
    earias ·
    • Flag

    @Harleybeachbride: I am a licensed attorney in California so what I'm about to say should not be construed as legal advice. I agree with Kathleen and OGA. I would add that in CA the smalls claim court judge will usually allow you to submit declarations signed under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State you're in from your witnesses who can't physically be there. Also it sounds like her attorney is just blowing smoke up your ass to intimidate you. It's what we call "posturing." Just ignore it. Good luck!

    • Reply
  • Tricia
    Super November 2019
    Tricia ·
    • Flag

    Make sure you have all your paperwork organized and ready to deliver should it be called upon. Be calm and tell the truth. Keep your answers short. Don't give up information that has not been requested, i.e. don't answer what wasn't asked.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @earias - thank you, I appreciate you're input. I will gather a few of affadavits (do you think the more the better or a few should suffice? I was told that her attorney can reject the affidavits as they have the right to question each in person but was told to bring them regardless and see what happens...does that sound accurate?) along w my pictures as evidence and calm demeanor. Yes, her attorney sounds like a bafoon and has sent me two emails encouraging me both times to reach out to him or else. I see no reason why, so have ignored him entirely.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @Tricia- great advice thank you. The truth is easy when it's the truth.... got that part down good. It's keeping the calm demeanor that will be my challenge (as I admittedly get worked up when I'm passionate about things especially when I'm done wrong) but I know that it will make all the difference to remain calm, postured, sticking to the facts in a very brief, specific, and

    distinct manner! :+)

    • Reply
  • Davistobe
    Super September 2017
    Davistobe ·
    • Flag

    I would also print the emails of the attorney who is threatening to sue you because you have brought this to light. Sounds like he's trying to scare you into submission.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @Davistobe -

    excellent

    idea!! It's funny too because he worded it in an attempt to sound like he had MY best interest at heart (ok... right!) and was doing me a favor to save me from being sued and losing (as if I havnt got a chance in hell) well....I strongly object and will see him and her in court! Printing.... than you! :+)

    • Reply
  • Sarah
    Devoted August 2017
    Sarah ·
    • Flag

    We had to do a small clam court for our pool guy. Thankfully we didn't end up having to go to actual court and settled prior. But I printed every review, email, contract, and had as many voicemail and information as possible. Biggest advice I can give is try to stay calm. I know that's hard I wanted to jump over the table and strangle the guy when I saw him. Also does she have your banking information? Just want go make sure you stay clear on all ends

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