Yong Hee’s complaint in Small Claims Court recently came before me as an arbitrator.
He was accompanied by the Court’s Chinese language interpreter.
It became clear to me at the outset that the interpreter was limiting what he translated, by reducing Mr. Yong’s long statements to a few words, accompanied by facial tics, body movements and twitches that required no translation.
In any case, I got the gist of Mr. Yong’s testimony.
Mr. Yong owns a sewing factory in a loft in lower Manhattan. It is staffed mainly by Chinese women, he said. Mr. Yong produces finished garments for several retail chain customers.
He is suing Kizi Fashion, a contract producer.
Kizi Fashion did not show up, so that the case became an “inquest”, a one-sided trial in which the defendant’s liability is conceded, based on Kizi’s failure to appear for trial.
However, claimant Mr. Yong under Small Claim’s Court rules still had to prove that he is entitled to an award in the amount that he is suing for. In other words, he must present some reasonable proof of the monetary value of his claim in order to justify an award in his favor.
Mr. Yong testified that he performed sewing jobs on many women’s garments (blouses, pants and jackets) at Kizi’s request for a total cost of $1,700 which, less a $200 payment on account, left a balance of $1,500.
Kizi gave Mr. Yong two checks in payment, one for $300 and one for $1,200, both of which were later returned by his bank for insufficient funds (“bounced”, in other words), resulting in bank charges to Mr. Yong’s bank account of $50 ($25 for each bounced check).
Mr. Yong had proved to my satisfaction that he was due $1,500, based on his sworn testimony, and the two bounced checks that he showed me.
However, Mr. Yong’s complaint against Kizi was for $2,000, not $1,500. When I asked about this difference, Mr. Yong said that he wanted an additional $500 because after Kizi’s checks bounced, he had to go to a local loanshark to borrow the money to pay his labor, and paid the loanshark $500 for “interest” on the loan.
If he got an award for that sum, he said, he would not insist on being reimbursed for his $50 in bank charges.
Should Kizi be held to pay the loanshark’s interest of $500?
To see my decision, click on the link below – Decision