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How to not get sued for machine work?

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  • krutch
    replied
    Just my opinion, (and I have no legal training) but with the condition of todays courts, (not following the laws just making them up or ignoring as they need them) anything you do for protection can be gotten around by slick lawyers and willing judges.
    The best you could do is write a detailed paper and have it registered with a local legal facility (county clerk, etc.) explaining any parts you made are NOT for street use. Won't save ya any suits but might be of some help to you.

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  • Evan
    replied
    You can also find example cases witch will become case law after a judgment is entered.
    Case law is the most important part of law. Regardless of what the statutes read it's the case law that matters. Few judges are likely to overturn previous decisions because it will usually mean an appeal and they stand a good chance of being overturned as well.

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  • Evan
    replied
    Originally posted by Alistair
    I told my (next door neigbour) lawyer to claim the architect as this was what I was advised to do she let it become time barred.So not wanting to sue my neighbour I let it go I must admit I was younger then and would have sued her had it been now.(Sad but true )naive or what.
    It is nearly impossible to sue a lawyer. The first and main obstacle is to find another lawyer to take the case. Few if any will do it as it is bad for business. Lawyers refer clients to each other regularly for work in areas they don't handle. Want your referrals to vanish? Sue another lawyer.

    edit: It can be done but usually only in very big cases involving very large sums.
    Last edited by Evan; 06-19-2013, 03:41 PM.

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  • GEP
    replied
    One of the things i recommend you check on if there is a statued of limitations in the law of your state in the machining field or parts field. If there is you may be ok and wont have any worry. Like car makers they don't get sued for every part that breaks. You may find the law on line, here in michigan its called michigan compiled law and can be accessed on line. You can also find example cases witch will become case law after a judgment is entered.

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  • flylo
    replied
    The point was have a print & make sure it's made to thr specs on the print. I know several small shop that make the same part on a regular basis that may or may not know kind of what its for but not exactly what it fits or what the exact applcation is. I'm not saying play dumb as in your case you know exactly what the parts were for. But as a machinist you only need to know by the print what to machine, not what it is. Again this is only what I'd do.

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  • beanbag
    replied
    Originally posted by flylo View Post
    As far as making parts I would require a print & make it to that spec & not know what it goes to. This is just my ideas, not advise for anyone else.
    That lawyer-like person said that playing dumb like this doesn't work well.

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  • lazlo
    replied
    Originally posted by sansbury View Post
    Moral of the story is be careful with rich clients and don't make anything except lawn ornaments
    Classic!

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  • flylo
    replied
    I'm no lawyer but a Sub S or LLC can offer some protection if done properly & the bookeeping kept up. It creates a seperate entity. But if your the president of the corp or not & knowinly make dangerous or substandard parts I think you could be sued individulally. This is only what I would do. Start a corp, if you do business on your home property make a lease from you to the corp. Any equipment or money you have invested make & record a mortage from the corp to you & record it at the courthouse. If someone sues the corp you have a 1st mortage or note ahead of anyone else. So if they force the corp into bankruptsy you get paid first & nothing left for them. As far as making parts I would require a print & make it to that spec & not know what it goes to. This is just my ideas, not advise for anyone else.

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  • The Artful Bodger
    replied
    Originally posted by Enfield View Post
    Yep - good here isn't it
    Not so good for lawyers!

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  • Enfield
    replied
    Originally posted by The Artful Bodger View Post
    If you do honest work you wont be sued, provided you live in New Zealand.


    (See http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc/overv...-acc/index.htm)

    Yep - good here isn't it

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  • sansbury
    replied
    Originally posted by lazlo View Post
    Isn't that a good reason to just incorporate? Incorporating completely separates your personal assets from the corporation's assets, does it not?
    My understanding is that a single-member LLC and and an S-corporation with one shareholder are going to be viewed identically if push comes to shove. For that matter, even if there are multiple members/shareholders, it is possible to "pierce the corporate veil" in certain circumstances, namely including cases where the member/shareholder can be shown to be personally negligent or guilty of overt fraud. You also need to behave like a business, so if you just have an LLC and the machines in your garage and the only thing that ever happens is you occasionally book a few thousand $ of income from the business, the courts are more likely to regard you as a sole proprietorship.

    As for the 25k figure jep24601 quotes, I think that really depends. Assuming $250/hr (which will pay for a pretty good firm/lawyer), that's 100 hours of work. From experience, that pays for a lot of work, *IF* your attorney knows the area of law you're working in. I've had cases that involved dozens of conferences, memos, a court appearance, etc. done for less than that.

    Keep in mind that there's two sides to the game in this. If the plaintiff's attorney offers a settlement for $5k, then he's going to get about $1800, which is only ~7 hours of his time. Any more than that and he's starting to fall behind. If it takes your lawyer 3 hours to respond then it's going to take the other guy's lawyer just as much (roughly speaking). Doesn't take much of that before the cost of suing exceeds the payoff. As an aside, this only applies to contingency stuff. If the plaintiff is wealthy enough to pay by the hour, then all bets are off. I've had to deal once with a guy who could afford to be stupid with his money. That was a PITA. Moral of the story is be careful with rich clients and don't make anything except lawn ornaments

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  • lazlo
    replied
    Originally posted by jep24601 View Post
    LLC gives you no protection, it just makes it harder for someone to collect from you.
    It will cost you $25,000 to defend against a lawsuit using a lawyer so you get sued knowing that they will get $5,000 out of you to just go away.
    Isn't that a good reason to just incorporate? Incorporating completely separates your personal assets from the corporation's assets, does it not?

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  • sansbury
    replied
    Originally posted by beanbag View Post
    I'm back to provide an update and some closure.
    <SNIP>
    When the plaintiff goes around suing everybody, they will have to assign percentage liabilities, so it's not like they will sue you for no related reason at all.
    <SNIP>
    In terms of getting a "shakedown" settlement offer, the lawyer person wasn't super clear on that. She said that you don't necessarily need a lawyer to flash your set of documents showing that you thought it was just for art work instead of a street bike. You can also just say "no" to the shakedown offer. (She didn't say what would be the likely outcome of that except that usually one needs a good reason to attempt a shakedown anyway.)
    <SNIP>
    It is possible, and very important NOT TO, accidentally alter or unwind your earlier contract. For example, I make parts for the art show, then the designer wants to put them on the actual street bike. If I accept, I automatically undo my earlier disclaimer that it was art only and can't use my drawing with the "art only" disclaimer as proof.
    Thanks for sharing that.

    My experience with commercial litigation as both plaintiff and defendant is that the system usually ends up with something of a muddle that leaves both sides somewhat unsatisfied. Virtually everything gets settled before trial, and I've taken settlements for 2/3 of what I was entitled to with damn good cases of customers being complete jerks. Never know what a jury will come back with. There are horror stories of people getting million-dollar judgments against them for people hitting themselves in the head with a hammer because it didn't have a label saying "CAUTION: Do not hit self in head with hammer!" If you want to contemplate low-probability outcomes, you might as well spend all your time worrying about pancreatic cancer or getting struck by lightning.

    None of this is to defend the current system, in particular the way that the bar associations have rigged the system to keep access to legal services as expensive as possible. That's changing though, and most lawyers are getting squeezed hard these days and law school enrollment is dropping so fast that law schools are starting to worry about going out of business.

    Oh, and last thing, my experience with lawyers is that you have to think of them as dumb tools. They may know law and have a license to charge you for that, but odds are that they know little or nothing about what you do, and even in the area of law, chances are they only know one or two areas well. A guy who's good at commercial litigation may be no good at corporate structures and general commercial matters. Don't ask me how I know!

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  • Alistair Hosie
    replied
    People are much more letigious these days just look at the advertising lawyers put out.It seems such a shame that you seemed to try to help someone and got stung.I have a good one,
    just look what happened to me.
    I got a quote for a kitchen work not a fitted kitchen just work on the kitchen.The architect supposedly working for me asks for money to pay the builder up front I say wait I want a proper bill in writing prior to comencement of the work so that I know where I stand.The architect agrees saying we would never do work any other way and sends me a bill for £1500 this is 30 years ago I tell him to go ahead and instruct the builders to start work the did so and when finished he telephoned me in an irate state telling me he made a mistake and I would need to pay £5000 instead of £1500 I tell him thinking I was in the clear to go take a run and jump.Then I get taken to court and despite the builders not showing me a bill I had authorized for £5000 I lost and had to pay an extra £3.500 as the architect told the court he had instructed the builderts to go ahead for £5000 and as I admitted he was acting as my agent I had to pay the builder. I told my (next door neigbour) lawyer to claim the architect as this was what I was advised to do she let it become time barred.So not wanting to sue my neighbour I let it go I must admit I was younger then and would have sued her had it been now.(Sad but true )naive or what. Alistair
    Last edited by Alistair Hosie; 06-18-2013, 05:03 PM.

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  • sansbury
    replied
    Originally posted by Evan View Post
    I wouldn't expect him to know squat about design and neither would a court. That is the job of a mechanical engineer, not Joe. He may know something about how to use the part, maybe even correctly but that also isn't a sure thing.
    And even the mechanical engineer who works on vacuum systems may not know squat about motorcycle suspensions. Point is, this is a game of "how likely is the jury to believe your story?" If the part buyer is a motorcycle professional you have more room to argue that Mr. Machinist didn't need to second-guess the specs and understood that a machinist simply made parts to print.

    Originally posted by flylo View Post
    I think you missed my point. The 1st post states the parts are questionable. My point is don't make them KNOWING they will fail. Instead of spending the time with a lawyer to fiqure out what to do when they fail just don't build it or build it right.
    There's some truth in this but it's like making parts for an airplane that's going to sit on static display vs. one that's going to (attempt to) fly.

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