I'm in the US, California, and I entered into an independent contractor agreement while I was in college with this rich kid (trust fund kid) who was paying a low wage for my background to have me develop an app for him (and his DE C-corp). He hired me while I was an international student, which I recently realized is against the rules of my student visa and I believe illegal for him to have done.

In between me graduating and stuff, I got a proper job that pays well, and I had less incentive and time to work on his company. I did finish a good 80% of the work he wanted - but then every week he'd pile on new ideas and features and I stopped trying. I don't have time anymore.

Now, it's been a little over a year and I still haven't finished his work - he's pretty annoyed, and bugs me every few days to give him updates. I just don't have the time to work on it.

Because of my relative unresponsiveness, he's also stopped paying me and has annoyed me to do some work in between - there is a $2,500 balance remaining, which is fine - but he is asking me to do more work again and again, and he says he will pay the remaining amount after I do all this work.

I don't want the remaining money - I just want to drop out of this contract with minimal reprucssions. He has paid me something like $13,000 over the year though to get to that 80% point. There is a 30 day notice period - I'm allowed to give in writing 30 days prior to terminate the contract - and I, in good faith, found a foreign developer to handle the remaining work. I wrote a letter informing 30 days notice, but I haven't sent it to him because I'm a little worried - he's rich and has lawyers on his payroll and I'm not that well off - if he decides to vindictively take me to court or something that isn't something I want to have happen.

The contract states that it was my job to "further the backend development of technology the company already owns" - which I believe I did.

Any advice? It's okay if it's half-baked - I just want to take it into consideration!

  • 2
    This site is not for specific legal advice; talk to a lawyer. – BlueDogRanch Mar 17 '19 at 0:07

From what you describe, he will have no meritorious claim against you as long as you comply with the 30-day notice. That notice seems to be the only requirement expected from you toward terminating the relation. As a precaution, have him sign a receipt or copy of your 30-day notice.

The contract (again, based on the context you provide) does not seem premised on completion of the app. And even if it did, his history of coming up with new occurrences for the app might have overridden the contract already unless its terms allow for what is known as moving target.

Were he to dissuade you[r decision to terminate the contract] by means of intimidation, that would render the relation voidable on grounds of duress. See, for instance the Restatement (Second) of Contracts at ยง 174. Likewise, any litigation by him in that direction would be deemed harassing.

I am aware that you are not interested in getting the $2,500 owed to you. But you might still notify him that you expect him to pay the amount to which you are entitled, and if he refuses to do so then you could pursue recovery in Small Claims court.

I'm a little worried - he's rich and has lawyers on his payroll

And yet he seemingly ignored or did not seek legal advice regarding the visa despite his knowledge that you were an international student.

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  • Thank you for the reply! I didn't downvote - this was very useful and I'm very thankful for the reply! – adeveloperkid Mar 18 '19 at 0:29
  • @adeveloperkid You're very welcome. Your question will likely be useful to other users who may find themselves in a similar situation. Thus, if you don't mind, please mark the answer as accepted. That will prevent the auto-user Community from automatically removing your question & the answer days later (as happened on other occasion where the OP liked my answer but his question was downvoted by someone else, closed, and deleted). Thanks. – Iñaki Viggers Mar 18 '19 at 10:02
  • @adeveloperkid Thanks man. You rock! – Iñaki Viggers Mar 18 '19 at 20:36
  • He decided to get his lawyer-dad to send me a bs demand letter demanding I retract my 30 days notice, or he will file suit within 5 days. This might be inappropriate - but would you be interested in providing some guidance? I spoke to an attorney already - but just wanted a second opinion! – adeveloperkid Apr 8 '19 at 1:57
  • @adeveloperkid Short of actually practicing law, I would assist you to the extent permitted by law, similarly to what I do here on Law SE (keep in mind that I have never been a lawyer, which raises factual constraints on how much I am allowed to do for anyone else). Unless your current job makes it not feasible, this might be a good occasion for you to gain exposure to court proceedings for when some clown tries to intimidate or defraud you. – Iñaki Viggers Apr 8 '19 at 12:57

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