Client refuses to pay balance, so I shut them down

Ok here is the situation. I built a complex wordpress website for a company. The total cost for the project was around $5000 which is average for this type of website that we built. My contract unfortunately was somewhat weak, because I trusted this client. The work agreement basically states that if we will charge $40 per hour for labor. The client wanted the website live as we built it.

From the beginning the client was a nightmare. I actually wanted to drop them but they insisted, so I stay on board. Communication was terrible, days to answer my questions, requests, etc. I even used Basecamp for their staff to add content and requests. Anyway, I went out of my way to provided them with a great website and do all the functionality they requested. They end up getting the final invoice for $1700 and simply ignore me for almost 2 months. I send email after email asking for them to resolve this, I call, I try to meet them to see if I can give them some free work to make them happy. NOTHING. Finally I start sending hosting disconnect notices and they just threaten me with a lawsuit. Now, this website is on my servers and with my hosting, and they control the domain name. Finally after they pretty much say they are not paying, I shut down the new website and put up the old one page site they had before.

Also, I noticed there were hundreds of members using the website which was basically unpaid for. What can I do? I have tons of proof through email and basecamp of me trying to resolve this and complete everything they wanted. Maybe the invoice was bigger than expected? Here is the amazing part: 6 weeks after the receiving the invoice they were still assigning me work! So, do I stand a chance in court? Has anyone dealt with this before?

Your description is too murky to really comment on.

Somewhere in there is the actual answer of ‘what are you entitled to payment-wise’ and that is a function of exactly what happened, what is documented/provable, and what the contract says.

Obtain and provide that information and your situation is probably not so tricky to understand.