DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

October 25, 2012

Buyer beware _ or be ready for court

About the Law Andrew Myers
Derry News

---- — I believe I was sold a false bill of goods. I purchased a pizza delivery business.

We looked at the financial records provided by the previous owner, but we have learned they were not correct. Is there anything that can be done to recoup some of my money?

The legal definition of misrepresentation requires a knowing misstatement of a material fact with the intent to deceive, and that you did, in fact, rely on the intentionally false statement to your detriment.

Often in an asset acquisition agreement, the document used to convey a business from one owner to the next, liability for this type of loss is limited. So, start by looking at this.

If there was no such document or if the liability is not so limited, then you may have a claim. Traditionally, the financial documents potential purchasers of a business should look at include actual line by line profit and expense statements supported by bank records as well as several years of tax records, with emphasis on Schedule C.

If you have such documents and they are in fact phony, then proceed to a business attorney, who will likely inform you that a business analyst will be required to provide admissible evidence supporting the case.

I ordered a custom laptop and some peripherals from a computer guy. I paid half up front and was going to pay the rest upon delivery.

Here it is a year later and all I have is excuses. What’s the best way to handle this? I’ve called and written and nothing.

My column has not addressed small claims court for a while. That’s the best forum for a dispute like this.

To keep jurisdictional problems simple, bring the small claim in the jurisdiction where the person lives or does business. The maximum you can seek in New Hampshire small claims court is $7,500. The Massachusetts cap on small claims is $7,000.

Both states have good court websites describing the small claims process and listing the rules. But, despite the rest of the world’s leap into the electronic era, in both states, the small claims court initial complaint is still one of those carbon-set type crinkly paper documents that you go and get, press hard while writing it out, and then file.

Don’t ask the court clerks for legal advice. By law, they’re not allowed to give it. But, the brochures and websites fairly well explain the process.

On the day of the hearing, take all documents with two extra copies. Make an outline or bullet point list of facts you must explain to the judge.

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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to andrew@attorney-myers.com.