Case Study (Courtesy of AVVO)
Question (from anonymous in Texas):
“Can I get advise for suing a travel agent in small claims court. He lied about the resort/wedding package he sold us. Agent gave personal experience/advise about a resort for our destination wedding in Fiji. Does he have a fiduciary role? He said resort is 4 star, should be 5 star, along with other misleading info. Resort was a 2 star at best. Implied international star rating scale. We described what we wanted for our wedding/honeymoon, and he lied about what we received. Our wedding ceremony was okay, but not what was desired, or promised/described by agent, and accommodations were terrible and dirty. We did sign a terms and conditions disclosure to allow charge to credit card. We have attempted mutual resolution. Getting ready to file suit in small claims court. Do we have a chance? What would a good strategy consist of?”
Response (from Attorney Rob Schenk):
“Good luck on you case!
The ‘terms and conditions’ that you signed regarding your credit card more than likely has other information in it that may affect your case. For example, a ‘Limited Liability’ clause may set the maximum amount of money you may be awarded. Or, ‘Merger’ provision (“this document represents the entire understanding of the parties…”) may kill your misrepresentation claims. You should definitely read and re-read that document.
I agree with my colleague that you may have success in small claims court. While I am not licensed in TX (my licenses are TN, GA, CA, NY, FL) the small claims courts of these states tend to be more relaxed and manuverable for a non-lawyer. That is not to say that you should not prepare!
Again, good luck.”
Moral of the Story: Make sure your contracts have the ‘fine print’ i.e. protections for your business.