Well, I had my day in court. Totally unsatisfying.
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, read part 1 here.
Back to the story. I spent several hours preparing my presentation to face Jon Muran in small claims court. I prepared three copies of my invoices, cashed checks, receipts, text log, etc. I even wrote out the entire sequence of events. We showed up at the court house at 9am as requested, then had to wait for an hour for our trial (typical government maneuver). And when we were called in for the hearing, Jon Muran was nowhere to be found. I kind of expected this, there was no upside to him showing up. My case was rock solid and I can’t imagine the judge would not have ruled in my favor. But we went through the formality anyway.
I presented the judge with one copy of everything I had, and tried to give her a high-level overview. She was very impatient, complained about having to look at all the papers, and proceeded to tell me that she could not follow what I was saying. Of course she didn’t seem to want to listen to me so that made it quite a challenge. Turns out she didn’t care about the whole story, she only wanted to know that I paid Jon $4,000 for a product that he did not deliver. When I tried to explain that it cost me $8,500 to have someone else complete the work – she told me it wasn’t relevant. I could only file a claim for what Jon was paid to deliver. I still take exception to this. I think if the Judge wasn’t so short tempered and impatient, she would have understood that I had paid a total of $11,000 to Jon for a system, and in order to get that system, I had to pay a total of $15,500 plus the $4,000 that I paid Jon for hardware not delivered. And as such, I should have been reimbursed $9,500. However, she only awarded me $4,000 plus court costs.
None of this matters though. Jon doesn’t have that kind of money, and there is no way for me to ever collect it. Unless he sells real property in Williamson County, in which case I can put a lien on the property, he has no compulsion to pay me. Of course I knew this all along, but I could not just ignore the injustice.
I also filed a complaint at the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration (TDLR) and they are finally (after 5 months) looking into my complaint. If they find he was in violation of the regulation, which he was, then they will bar fine him. Jon’s license was expired so I have no doubt that they will find him in violation of the rules. I will not receive any justice here either, but it will ensure Jon never gets a license again. Not sure if that matters as his license expired 8 years ago.
Moral of the story? I’m torn here. Do I lose my faith in mankind? Stop trusting people? Stop looking for “good deals”? I’m the kind of guy that picks up hitchhikers and gives money to the bums on the street. . I’m not a sucker – I’m very skeptical of most things, but it turns out I’m a poor judge of character. To this day, I still believe Jon was intending to do a good job, but he either got burned by the equipment supplier, or just couldn’t resist the wad of cash and snorted it all away. I doubt I’ll ever know what happened, but I’m sure that I will think twice next time. No guarantees that I won’t get burned again, but I’ll certainly be wiser.
Stay tuned for the results of the TDLR investigation