BatMedia published my articles and did not pay me for them, even though they acknowledge they owe me the money and said they would pay it.
Here is is the judgment:http://www2.miami-dadeclerk.com/public-records/Search.aspx
Here is the background story:
I was contracted by Batmedia, which publishes Sunset Drive Magazine, to write three articles. I wrote the articles and the publisher published two of the articles, but never paid me for the articles. I contacted the publisher numerous times and in various ways to collect payment, including:
The company has published two of my articles, but has not paid me for the articles. The contract, which is attached (attachment B2), states:
The Publisher agrees to pay Author U.S. $250.00 a 500 words article and $75.00 to edit articles provided by publication.The Publisher agrees to submit payment for the above-described projects within 15 days after receipt of invoice and publication of the aforementioned editorial project, assuming the editorial project is in accordance with the above project description.
In short, they are in breach of their own contract.
On September 16, 2010, I was contacted by Isora Arriaga from Sunset Drive Magazine. She contacted me on my cell phone and told me about a new magazine that she was part owner of that was launching in the South Miami area. She told me she was referred to me as a writer and we discussed some of my writing experience, as well as some of the sections in the magazine they needed writers to cover.
Upon ending our conversation, Isora requested that I send her some writing samples of my work. I sent her an email and samples (attached A1). On the 18thof September, the original email I sent to Isora was returned to me because I typed the wrong email (.com instead of .net) so I resent the email (attached A2).
A few days later, I was contacted by the editor of Sunset Drive Magazine, Eddie Batres. He said that he had seen my writing samples and wanted to see if I was interested in writing some articles for the November/December 2010 issue of the magazine. He mentioned three sections that he had opennutrition, relationships and a top holiday gift list for men. He also mentioned the length of the articles he was looking for was between 1,000 and 1,500 words. The deadline was set for the 20th of October.
I accepted all three of the articles and Eddie said he would have his CFO, Samuel Arriaga, send the contract to me.
Samuel sent the contract to me on September 20, 2010 (attached B1).
I returned the signed contract to Samuel on the same day and asked him to provide me information on the kill fee policy for the magazine (see attached B2 & B3).
Eddie and I spoke several times over the next few daysgoing back and forth on topics for the two articlesnutrition and relationshipsuntil we settled on the topics.
On September 29, 2010 I contacted Eddie again to find out where I should send the three completed articles. This is because he mentioned that the process was that the articles went for review and layout and that he got involved in editing toward the end right before the issue went to print. Eddie told me to send the articles to him, Isora and Chan Tran (see attached C1).
I submitted all three articles to all three people on October 4, 2010.
On October 5, 2010 I had not heard from any of the parties I emailed the articles to so I sent an email simply to follow-up and make sure that the articles had been received. On the same day, Chan responded confirming the articles were received (see attached C2).
On October 6, Isora responded saying that she received the articles as well (see attached C3).
On October 18, 2010, I sent another email to Chan to make sure that no edits or revisions were required on my part because I still had not heard from anyone and I knew the articles were going to Eddie Batres, the editor on the 20th of October. I was leaving for vacation on the 22nd, so I wanted to make sure I could take care of any edits before I left, so as not to delay the issue going to print. Chan responded saying that the articles were reviewed, that she had no questions for me and that she was working on editing all of the articles for the magazine (see attached D).
On October 27th, I called the Sunset Drive office and spoke to Celeste. I told her that I had sent emails to Eddie and was trying to follow-up with him on the articles to make sure everything was good so I could submit my invoice. She said Eddie was not in but that she would take a message. She also said that the publication had been delayed going to print because they were waiting on pictures from the public relations firm representing Romero Britto, which was another article in the issue.
On November 15, 2010 I still had not heard back from Eddie Batres via email or in response to my phone calls. I sent an email (see attached E). He still did not respond. On the same day, I sent an email to Samuel Arriaga to confirm if I should send my invoice to him or to Eddie for the articles (see attached F). No response came from Samuel either.
On November 16, 2010 I called the Sunset Drive Magazine office (see attached G). I left a message for Eddie, but received no response.
On November 29, 2010 I drove to The Shops at Sunset Place, which is where the Sunset Drive Magazine office is. I met with Eddie for about an hour and a half. He said he did end up using two of the three articles in the issue, but that the issue was at the printer and should be done the following day for him to pick up from the printer. He spent time showing me the issue on his computer. He gave me a list of future articles he wanted me to consider writing (see attached H1).
We also went over possible articles for the following issue. He wrote out some of the article topics or magazine sections (see attached H1) he wanted me to consider writing. He asked that I let him know which articles I was interested in by December 5, which he wrote and circled at the top.
He told me to come by the following day or on Wednesday to pick up my check and to get my issues of the magazine. He also wanted to print Sunset Drive Magazine business cards with my name, so I could represent the magazine on interviews. He told me to email him my invoice so he could make sure that his final word count on the articles matched with mine. I asked him about the kill fee for the third article that was written but not used in the issue, but he changed the subject prior to answering the question.
On November 30, 2010, I emailed Eddie the invoice for the two articles and told him that I would go by the office on Wednesday to pick up the check, the business cards and copies of the magazine (see attached H2).
On the same day, Eddie responded to my email (see attached H3). He said he received the invoice, but was surprised at the fee for the two articles. He asked that I send him a copy of the contract that Samuel had sent to me. I submitted a copy of the contract to him via email (see attached H4). I did not hear back from him the rest of this day or the following morning, which is the day I was planning to go by the office.
On December 1, 2010 I called the Sunset Drive Magazine office and spoke with Eddie at 12:37 pm (see attached I). He said he was at the courthouse paying parking tickets. We started to discuss the contract rate, which he says should have been 20 cents per word, but the contract rate says 50 cents per word. When I suggested that he honor the contract and that I had no problem renegotiating the rate for future work, he told me that he was at the payment window and that he would call me back.
At about 1:32 pm I called Eddie again from my cell phone (see J) because I had not heard back from him and I wanted to finish our conversation prior to going at my scheduled time to pick everything up from his office. I got his voice mail on his cell phone and left a message that I was still planning on going to his office at 4 pm to pick up my check and to please call me back so we could continue our conversation before then. No response.
I arrived at the Sunset Drive Magazine office at 3:50 pm and the doors were locked and nobody was there. I called the office phone (see attached I), which was forwarded to his cell phone and got the message that his voice mailbox was full, so I could not leave a message. I called his cell phone (see attached I) two more timesonce at 3:51 pm and again at 4:06 pm. I sent two text messages to Eddies cell phone (see attached KI also have a copy of the text message on my cell phone but was not able to print the actual message to attach it here). I also wrote and left a note under the office door. I emailed Eddie at 4:17 pm (see attached L) as well. I stood in front of the office for about 20 to 30 minutes to see if anyone would show up. Nobody came and I did not receive a response to my text message or email message.
On December 2, 2010 I called the Sunset Drive office at 10:56 am (see attached I). The office phone was still saying that the voice mail box was full and that I could not leave a message.
On December 2, 2010 Eddie called me back at about 11 am saying that he doesnt appreciate how I am coming at him about the contract and that it is the wrong way to do business with him. I told him that I didnt appreciate driving all the way to his office when he knew I was coming only to find the office empty and the doors locked. He claims his car was stolen with his phone it and he just got everything back this morning. He says he is going to figure out how to pay me but it is going to be in installments and if I dont accept that then I can sue him. I asked what kind of installments and he said he would break it down into four installments. I told him that I need the payment amount and dates in writing so that I could review his proposal. He said he has to count up the words and all of a sudden claims that he had to do a lot of editing on my articles, which is interesting because when we met face to face he offered me more work (refer back to attached H1). I told him I need the payments in writing and he said he would email it to me. He threatened to call the printer and pull the two articles from the issue and I told him to go ahead because if he does that then he doesnt have to pay me. I never heard back from him or received an email of the proposed payment plan.
On December 10, 2010 I called and spoke to Eddie at the office at 12:58 pm (see attached M). He asked if his wife had called me. I said no and that is why I was calling because I hadnt heard from him. He said they are going to pay me according to the contract, but he would have his wife call me because she has the specific details. He said they are going to break it into four payments and pay me once or twice a month to honor the full contract price. He said that their word count and mine were about the same, but that Celeste would call me with the details. I told him that I would look forward to her call.
On December 15, 2010 I still had not heard from anyone so I sent Celeste an email requesting the payment schedule (see attached N). No response.
On December 22, 2010 I sent Eddie an email to let him know that I had not heard from Celeste and to request the payment schedule again (see attached O). No response.
On January 5, 2011 I called the Sunset Drive office number and left a message for Eddie or Celeste on the company voice mail saying that I never heard back from anyone on the proposed payment plan for the outstanding invoice (see attached M).
On January 5, 2011 I received an email from a prospective writer because she was interested in writing articles for the Sunset Drive magazine (see attached Q). I went to the Sunset Drive Magazine website. On the staff page of the website, my name (although misspelled) is listed with the title of Managing Editor. There was also a Sunset Drive Magazine email address (KLorette@SunsetDriveMagazine), which was apparently forwarding to my actual email address, which is how I received it.
On January 10, 2011 my boyfriend called the Sunset Drive magazine office and Eddie answered the phone (phone records not available yet). My boyfriend asked Eddie where he could purchase an issue of the magazine. Eddie said that the magazine is only available from the Sunset Drive Magazine office.On January 11, 2011 I sent a final demand letter to Eddie Batres at the Sunset Drive Magazine office (see attached P). The letter was sent certified mail with a signature required. The certified mail receipt came in the mail with Eddies signature, dated receipt was January 12, 2011.
On January 17, 2011 I sent my boyfriend to the Sunset Drive office to pick up copies of the magazine to ensure my articles were in the magazine and under my byline. Both articles were included in the magazine (see attached R & S).On January 21, 2011 I received another email from a girl seeking writing or employment opportunities for Sunset Drive Magazine.Payment for the invoice has never been received and I have never heard from Eddie, Celeste or any other representative from Batmedia or Sunset Drive Magazine.
In August of 2011, their attorney called me to make payment arrangements. Then, Eddie Batres stopped returning his own attorneys phone calls to complete the agreement.
In September 2011, Eddie Batres left a voice mail on my phone saying he is going to pay me.
Amount received thus far: $0.