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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5784

P'ninat Mishpat: Compensation for Transfer of Business to One Partner part VII

(based on ruling 78039 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: The plaintiff (=pl) and the defendant (=def) opened a center that provides therapy for children. According to their agreement, def, who has a similar center elsewhere, was responsible for the finances and infrastructure. Pl was to serve as a therapist, be in charge of day-to-day operations, interact with parents and workers, and plan events. The business and grounds’ rental were in def’s name. Pl and def were supposed to get small salaries and then split profits equally after reaching “the point of balance,” but pl never received profits. After three years, acrimony brought them to separate, and beit din oversaw the transfer of the business to pl, with compensation due to def. [In this last installment, we will deal with several minor claims of injustices, each one presented in the ruling section.]

 

Ruling: Pl demands that def return 10,000 NIS that a municipality mistakenly gave him for a Purim program she ran as the sides were parting, for which she billed the municipality and paid taxes, after she did the program without the help she asked for from def. Def explained why he was unable to provide the help and claimed that, in any case, based on the timing, the money belongs to him. Ruling: Based on beit din’s arrangements for transfer of the business, all monies received for services rendered before May 1 belong to def. It does not make a difference if def helped or did not. If pl (improperly) sent the municipality an invoice which resulted in her paying taxes, she caused herself the problem and does not receive compensation.

Pl demands half of the income from special events, which netted 189,000 NIS, based on an oral agreement due to the fact that pl was not being paid profits. Def denies such an agreement. Ruling: A few factors weaken pl’s claim. There is no circumstantial evidence of such an agreement or of an early claim of that money. Pl raised the claim in beit din at a late point in the adjudication. The sides’ written agreement lists such events as a basic obligation of pl, not a special, additional one. We also reasoned that pl might have made up for doing less therapy than expected by doing more of other things, such as special projects. Therefore, without substantiation, pl will not get anything from this claim.

Pl’s husband provided many services for the center and allowed it to use his property and has not gotten paid; the value of these is scores of thousands of NIS. Def’s only response was that the claim was made too late. Ruling: The Rama (Choshen Mishpat 264:4) rules that when one does a service for his fellow without being asked, we normally assume that he is to be paid, not that he was doing it for free. The Chatam Sofer (Shut V:119) says that delay in requesting pay is not an indication of waiving his rights. However, pl, in her summary of claims, explained that since the work had been done under false pretenses (regarding the chances of pl receiving profit), she can ask for money now. This means that she admits mechila previously, and she did not sufficiently prove the false pretenses. Additionally, the recipient of the award would be pl’s husband, but he is not a litigant in our proceedings. Therefore, there is no award of payment.

 

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