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gbm4th 10-02-2011 09:53 AM

Legal advice needed
I towed my boat to Galesvelle , Md in March to have an engine refit done. Was told 6-8 weeks but vague about the price. Arranged for the new engine and propeller shaft to be delivered in early May.

The marina called me in mid-June and said the boat was completed. I drove 3 hours from home to find the boat in the water and the engine on the cabin floor. I called the marina and they said they were told by the mechanic the install was complete.

Two months later after many phone calls, e-mails and broken promises the mechanic said he was ready and I drove down again at the beginning of August only to find.....the engine on the floor.

Towards the end of August the marina calls me to tell me the mechanic drilled thru the transom to replace the exhaust (w/o my knowledge or consent) and wanted to put the boat back in the water w/o fairing or gelcoating the area.

I stopped all work on the boat and asked for bills-the mechanic had the wrong boat manufacturer on my bill as well as being well over the vague verbal estimate I received. He claims he sent me a corrected bill that I have never seen.

The mechanic has placed a lien on my boat and placed it up for auction.

Will lawyers cost me more than paying the inflated bill and lien fees? Can I recover my legal fees?


Lesson learned, get the estimate in writing.

TQA 10-02-2011 10:01 AM


Originally Posted by gbm4th (Post 781768)
Lesson learned, get the estimate in writing.


An estimate is what it says, an estimate. A guess at what the price might be and who knows of a final price being less than the estimate.

What you needed was a quote.

dhays 10-02-2011 11:30 AM

What a nightmare. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that paying for an hour or two of an attorney's time to figure out your best course of action would probably be money well spent. He/she could give you some solid advice and then you would know where you really stand.

Good luck, I hope it works out for you.


saillife 10-02-2011 11:50 AM

Not enough info to form an opinion. I'm not a lawyer & I never played one on TV. With that out of the way here's my thoughts for what it's worth.

Assumption - Talking to a lawyer is gonna cost ~$500 (hour talk + retainer)

1. Worth of boat?
2. Size of bill from mechanic?

Gotta wonder how he got a lien so quick? Your post implies that you got the bill a month ago.
What does this mechanic claim to have done? You say the engine is on the cabin floor that's not much work.
Why a new exhaust hole??
How involved is the marina in this?

Sorry to hear about this sort of trouble. Good luck,

gbm4th 10-02-2011 12:07 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Worth of the boat, $25,000. The new engine alone was almost $10,000.

The bill $5000.

The engine was installed but the hole they put into the transom for the exhaust has yet to be faired and painted.

The engine has never been started and no sea trial attempted though the sea trial is mentioned on the bill.

The marina supports me as much as they can. I have even paid for the extra haul out the mechanic said he paid for and am now paying for being on the hard.


Faster 10-02-2011 12:23 PM

Also not a lawyer....

What an awful story. Does the mechanic work for the marina?

Would paying a lawyer simply to draft a letter to the parties involved be enough to give them pause? Is there any way to challenge a lien like that? I too wonder how that all happened so quickly.

Lousy place to be... my sympathies.

emoney 10-02-2011 01:23 PM

Get a lawyer. Repeat...get a lawyer. If you paid "this" bill, what's to stop him from sending you another one, and then just placing another lien? Burn me once, you've burned your buddy....burn me twice, I've burnt myself.

bljones 10-02-2011 02:22 PM

talk to an attorney and also call the cops. Fraud is a criminal offense, and a visit from the cops will often get more action more quickly than a lawyer's letter. If the boat is already liened and up for auction time is of the essence.

And get your boat out of there. Unless it's chained, take possession.

sailingfool 10-02-2011 02:28 PM

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You should negotiate a resolution on your own.

Bringing a lawyer in for $5000 wont make any sense...the lawyer will want $200-250/hour and it will take a 3-4 hours just to come up to speed and draft anything, probably more unless you are lucky enough to find a lawyer who has expertise in marine related disputes. You will be out $1-2000 just to get to the talking stage.

An actual attempt to take this issue to court would cost as much as the disputed amount or more. You wont have a shot at recovering your legal fees.

I always think advice to get a lawyer for this type of dispute comes either from folks who have never done so, or from someone who is a lawyer...

paul323 10-02-2011 02:40 PM

My two cents...speak with a lawyer. There are lots of reputable lawyers who will chat to you, and give you an estimate of their costs (and likely process), without charging. Although I respect the people who say don't hire a lawyer - they may well be correct - calling one or more, chatting to them, getting free advice - that will help you to decide if *hiring* a lawyer makes sense.

You may also want to investigate the lien process in your state. In CA, there is a fairly long process which begins with the submission, and then includes a grace period for the owner to dispute, or otherwise settle, the lien.

Finally - as others have said - move fast on this. The longer you leave it, the greater your risk.

(disclaimer: Not lawyer, so not legal advice - just opinions! Good luck!!!)

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