Can I sue the repair shop for not returning my car in a timely manner?
Your dispute with the mechanic will likely be a matter of contract law. The court may require an invoice to be produced to prove any damages claimed in support of a lien on the property and determine the amount claimed is reasonable.
Contracts are agreements that are legally enforceable. A contract is an agreement between two parties that creates an obligation to do or refrain from doing a particular thing. The purpose of a contract is to establish the terms of the agreement by which the parties have fixed their rights and duties. An oral contract is an agreement made with spoken words and either no writing or only partially written. An oral contract may generally be enforced the same as a written agreement. However, it is much more difficult with an oral contract to prove its existence or the terms. Oral contracts also usually have a shorter time period within which a person seeking to enforce their contract right must sue. A written contract generally provides a longer time to sue than for breach of an oral contract. Contracts are mainly governed by state statutory and common (judge-made) law and private law. Private law generally refers to the terms of the agreement between the parties, as parties have freedom to override many state law requirements regarding formalities of contracts. Each state has developed its own common law of contracts, which consists of a body of jurisprudence developed over time by trial and appellate courts on a case-by-case basis.
An unjustifiable failure to perform all or some part of a contractual duty is a breach of contract. A legal action for breach of contract arises when at least one party's performance does not live up to the terms of the contract and causes the other party to suffer economic damage or other types of measurable injury. A lawsuit for breach of contract is a civil action and the remedies awarded are designed to place the injured party in the position they would be in if not for the breach. Remedies for contractual breaches are not designed to punish the breaching party. The five basic remedies for breach of contract include the following: money damages, restitution, rescission, reformation, and specific performance. A money damage award includes a sum of money that is given as compensation for financial losses caused by a breach of contract. Parties injured by a breach are entitled to the benefit of the bargain they entered, or the net gain that would have accrued but for the breach. The type of breach governs the extent of damages that may be recovered.
Restitution is a remedy designed to restore the injured party to the position occupied prior to the formation of the contract. Parties seeking restitution may not request to be compensated for lost profits or other earnings caused by a breach. Instead, restitution aims at returning to the plaintiff any money or property given to the defendant under the contract. Plaintiffs typically seek restitution when contracts they have entered are voided by courts due to a defendant's incompetence or incapacity.
Rescission is the name for the remedy that terminates the contractual duties of both parties, while reformation is the name for the remedy that allows courts to change the substance of a contract to correct inequities that were suffered. In order to have a rescission, both parties to the contract must be placed in the position they occupied before the contract was made. Courts have held that a party may rescind a contract for fraud, incapacity, duress, undue influence, material breach in performance of a promise, or mistake, among other grounds.
Specific performance is an equitable remedy that compels one party to perform, as nearly as practicable, his or her duties specified by the contract. Specific performance is available only when money damages are inadequate to compensate the plaintiff for the breach
Promissory estoppel is a term used in contract law that applies where, although there may not otherwise be an enforceable contract, because one party has relied on the promise of the other, it would be unfair not to enforce the agreement. Promissory estoppel arises from a promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forebearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee and which does induce such action or forebearance in binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise. Detrimental reliance is a term commonly used to force another to perform their obligations under a contract, using the theory of promissory estoppel. Promissory estoppel may apply when a promise was made; reliance on the promise was reasonable or foreseeable; there was actual and reasonable reliance on the promise; the reliance was detrimental; and injustice can only be prevented by enforcing the promise. Detrimental reliance must be shown to involve reliance that is reasonable, which is a determination made on an individual case-by-case basis, taking all factors into consideration. Detrimental means that some type of harm is suffered.
Reasonable reliance is usually referred to as a theory of recovery in contract law. It was what a prudent person might believe and act upon based on something told by another. Sometimes a person acts in reliance on the promise of a profit or other benefit, only to learn that the statements or promises were either incorrect or were exaggerated. The one who acted to their detriment in reasonable reliance may recover damages for the costs of his/her actions or demand performance. Reasonable reliance connotes the use of the standard of ordinary and average person.
A lawsuit is initiated by the filing of a complaint. A complaint for breach of contract is often used when the lawsuit is based upon an unpaid debt. To create a valid lien, it is essential that the party claiming a lien should have the absolute property or ownership of the thing or, at least, a right to vest it; that the party claiming the lien should have an actual or constructive, possession, with the assent of the party against whom the claim is made; that the lien should arise upon an agreement, express or implied and not be for a limited or specific purpose that contradicts the express terms or the clear, intent of the contract. Liens can generally be removed by the payment of the amount owed. This payment can occur at any time up to and including the stage at which the closing documents for the sale of the property are signed.
A mechanic's lien is the right of a mechanic, laborer, supplier, architect or
other person who has worked upon improvements or delivered materials to
a particular piece of property to place a lien on that property
for the value of the services and/or materials if not paid. Ultimate, last-
resort enforcement of the mechanic's lien is accomplished by filing a lawsuit
to foreclose the lien and have the property sold in order to be paid.
Please see the following MD statute:
14-401 COM. LAW. Definitions.
(a) In general. — In this subtitle the following words have the
(b) Consumer product. — "Consumer product" means goods or
services used for personal, family, or household purposes, the actual
cash sales price of which to the person guaranteed was in excess of $10.
(c) Guarantor. — "Guarantor" means a person who is engaged in the
business of making consumer products available to consumers and who makes
(d) Guaranty. — (1) "Guaranty" means any of the following which
is made at the time of the sale of a consumer product by a guarantor to a
person guaranteed and which is part of the basis of the bargain between
(i) A written affirmation of fact or written promise which relates to
the nature of the material or workmanship and affirms or promises that
the material or workmanship is defect-free or meets a specified level of
(ii) A written undertaking to refund, repair, replace, or take other
remedial action with respect to the consumer product if it proves
defective in material or workmanship or fails to meet a specified level
(2) "Guaranty" includes warranty.
(3) "Guaranty" does not include:
(i) A written statement or expression of general policy concerning
customer satisfaction which is not subject to specified limitations; or
(ii) A service contract.
(e) Mechanical breakdown insurance. — "Mechanical breakdown
insurance" means a policy, contract, or agreement issued by an authorized
insurer that provides for the repair, replacement, or maintenance of
property or indemnification for repair, replacement, or services, for the
operational or structural failure of a product due to a defect in the
materials or workmanship or due to normal wear and tear.
(f) Person. — "Person" includes an individual, corporation,
business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, two or more
persons having a joint or common interest, or any other legal or
(g) Person guaranteed. — "Person guaranteed" means:
(1) The person who is the first buyer at retail of a consumer product
which is the subject of a guaranty;
(2) A person who is entitled to enforce the obligations of a guaranty
against the guarantor; or
(3) The person who is entitled to enforce the obligations of the provider
under a service contract.
(h) Provider. — "Provider" means a person or persons acting in
concert who are contractually obligated under the terms of a service
contract to provide services to the owner of a product covered by the
(i) Reasonable and necessary maintenance. — "Reasonable and
necessary maintenance" means those operations which the person guaranteed
reasonably can be expected to perform or have performed and which are
necessary to keep the product performing its intended function.
(j) Replace. — "Replace" means:
(1) To replace a product or its component with a new and identical or
equivalent product or component; or
(2) To refund the price of the product or its component less reasonable
(i) Neither replacement nor repair is commercially practicable; or
(ii) The person guaranteed is willing to accept the refund in place of
the replacement or repair.
(k) Service contract. — (1) "Service contract" means a contract
or agreement for a separately stated consideration for a specific
duration to perform the repair, replacement, or maintenance of a
product, or to indemnify for the repair, replacement, or maintenance,
because of an operational or structural failure due to a defect in
materials, workmanship, or normal wear and tear, with or without
additional provisions for incidental payment of indemnity under limited
(2) "Service contract" includes a contract or agreement for repair,
replacement, or maintenance of a product for damage resulting from power
surges and accidental damage from handling.
(3) "Service contract" does not include:
(i) A guaranty;
(ii) A maintenance agreement that does not include a provision for the
repair, replacement, or maintenance of a product because of an
operational or structural failure due to a defect in materials,
workmanship, or normal wear and tear;
(iii) A warranty, service contract, or maintenance agreement offered by
a public utility on its transmission devices to the extent it is
regulated by the Public Service Commission;
(iv) A mechanical repair contract under § 15-311.2 of the
Transportation Article; or
(v) Mechanical breakdown insurance.
(l) Services. — (1) "Services" means work, labor, or any other
kind of activity furnished or agreed to be furnished to a person
(2) "Services" includes services for home improvement, repair of a
motor vehicle and other products, and the repair or installation of
plumbing, heating, electrical, or mechanical devices.
(3) "Services" does not include the professional services of an
accountant, architect, clergyman, engineer, lawyer, or medical or dental
(m) Without charge. — (1) "Without charge" means that the
guarantor cannot charge the person guaranteed for any costs which the
guarantor or the guarantor's representative incurs in connection with the
required repair or replacement of a consumer product.
(2) "Without charge" does not mean that the guarantor must compensate
the person guaranteed for incidental expenses unless the expenses were
incurred because the repair or replacement was not made within a reasonable
(n) Wrongful breach of a guaranty. — "Wrongful breach of a
guaranty" means the failure of a guarantor to perform the duties imposed
by § 14-404(a), (b), and (c) of this subtitle.
(o) Wrongful breach of a service contract. — "Wrongful breach of
a service contract" means the failure of a provider to perform the duties
imposed by § 14-404(a), (b), and (c) of this subtitle.