Out of state civil case

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Latest post 12-04-2012 6:34 PM by OliviasMom. 12 replies.
  • 11-07-2012 4:07 PM

    • Liyros
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    Out of state civil case

    Hello.

    I'm currently working in Texas since I couldn't get a job in Florida, but the defendant (at least hopefully if I can get the ball rolling) lives back in Lakeland, Florida.  I'm guessing this means that I'll still have to get  representation from Florida.

    Anywho, I'm really unversed when it comes to civil court cases.  The basic situation is I asked my former roommate to ship me some of my stuff (clothes, video games, DVDs) and in exchange, I'd give him my 42" TV, my bed (it was a nice one..) and $100 over whatever amount if the profit from selling those two items didn't work out.  He acted like he would, but because he's a slow person, he freaked out and changed his mind.  Feeling very frustrated at this point, I drove all the way back to Florida and lo and behold!  He stole almost everything of value since he knew I was gone.  I called the cops and they wouldn't do anything since it wasn't a break-in.  So of course I'm beyond frustrated and just feeling like no one is on my side.  After making me feel bad for not using 911 properly, the cop said I could just sue the defendant.  

    I'm just 20 years old taking a year off of college to try and make money.  I can't pay thousands.  I'll readily admit I made a mistake with this roommate (he was a friend, but not a close one) and I shouldn't have trusted him.  

    I tried looking for a local Florida military pro bono place to help out since I'm a dependent, but they're not accepting any more cases this year.  Just any advice would be much appreciated.  I have an e-mail and text trail showing where I state that if doesn't send me the agreed amount of stuff, take the TV and and bed would be tantomount to stealing and other hopefully incriminating stuff.

    The thought of this person getting away with this makes me ill.

     

  • 11-07-2012 4:15 PM In reply to

    • DPH
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    Re: Out of state civil case

    Liyros:
    I called the cops and they wouldn't do anything since it wasn't a break-in

    Not all thefts involve breakins, so I would call local cops again with a detailed list of the missing items and report them stolen.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Get a police report/case number.  Did you have homeowners/rental insurance?  if so, file a claim with your insurance company.

    Liyros:
    I can't pay thousands

    Do the math.  How much is the missing stuff worth?  How much are you willing to pay an attorney at, say, $200 per hour to pursue a civil suit against this person?  If the costs to file suit and proceed exceeds the value of the missing items, you have your answer.

    Liyros:
    The thought of this person getting away with this makes me ill.
     

    Yeah, but sometimes that's life.  You may just have to write this off as an expensive life lesson and move on.

     

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • 11-07-2012 4:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Out of state civil case

    Liyros:

    I'm currently working in Texas since I couldn't get a job in Florida, but the defendant (at least hopefully if I can get the ball rolling) lives back in Lakeland, Florida.  I'm guessing this means that I'll still have to get  representation from Florida.

    You can use Florida small claims court without having to hire a lawyer.

    http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/family/self_help/smallclaims.shtml

    You'll just have to be willing to travel back to Florida for court dates and you don't get anything for travel time, lost income, or inconvenience.

    Liyros:
     I called the cops and they wouldn't do anything since it wasn't a break-in.

    They also likely consider it a civil matter of ownership dispute between roommates. Even if you could get them to take a report, the DA isn't likely to prosecute. But at least you get it on record.

    Liyros:
     I'll readily admit I made a mistake with this roommate (he was a friend, but not a close one) and I shouldn't have trusted him.  

    From now on, no more roommates. They'll do it to you every time, no matter how well you know them or trust them.

    Liyros:
     I have an e-mail and text trail showing where I state that if doesn't send me the agreed amount of stuff, take the TV and and bed would be tantomount to stealing and other hopefully incriminating stuff.

    That's only useful to show that you've made a demand. It's not evidence of his culpability.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 11-07-2012 5:27 PM In reply to

    Re: Out of state civil case

    DPH:
    Not all thefts involve breakins, so I would call local cops again with a detailed list of the missing items and report them stolen.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Get a police report/case number.  Did you have homeowners/rental insurance?  if so, file a claim with your insurance company.

    If a police report is already made from the initial call, that's all that's needed for the insurance claim. Calling the cops again isn't likely to do any good. While you are correct that theft does not require a break-in, the problem here is that it's not an easy case for proving fraud. Since they evidently had a contract on what to do about his stuff, it could simply be a breach of contract problem. A prosecutor won't want to devote time on a case that a jury might well conclude is just a civil dispute rather than theft.

  • 11-11-2012 12:20 AM In reply to

    • Liyros
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    Re: Out of state civil case

    Thanks for the responses!  I really appreciate it.  So this is smalls claims, okey dokie.

    I don't have insurance, but I'm going to sue this guy.  That, and I don't think he'll even show up to court or respond to the summons since he's avoidant, which will make the proceedings easier right?  

    Also, is it okay if I just use his mother's address for forms?  He's ignoring all of my calls, texts, and e-mails.  So there goes trying to settle things like reasonable people.  Previously, he was living with his parents.

    Also; any advice on how can I prove his culpability?  

    I'm about to send a Demand Letter since I read somewhere that will help the case.

  • 11-13-2012 6:55 AM In reply to

    • DOCAR
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    Re: Out of state civil case

    Liyros:
    Also, is it okay if I just use his mother's address for forms?

    Depends upon for what purpose.  If you want to serve him there, he has to be there to receive the papers personally. If he doesn't live there anymore, that would not be good service.

  • 11-30-2012 5:14 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    Re: Out of state civil case

    If he does not show up for the court date, you likely would get a default judgment in your favor.

    But, if he can prove "defective service", he might be able to get the judgment set aside without too much trouble. Then you get to start over. Also, you might want to review FL small claims rules about appeals. In some states it is very easy to get a SC judgment set aside, thus requiring you to go to regular court.

    The other thing about small claims is that winning your case often is less than half of the battle. The biggest headache with small claims is collecting on your judgment, if you do win. He already sounds like a deadbeat. Don't ;think that he will voluntarily pay any judgment against. He probably won't.

  • 12-01-2012 2:56 AM In reply to

    • Liyros
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    Re: Out of state civil case

    Thanks for the heads up.  I was reading about certain papers I should get and how apparently a sheriff can get involved if payments aren't made by seizing property I point out the location of, which I'm sure is his parents.  I might hire someone just to make sure he's still there, I don't know.  It'll likely end up that way (him not making payments), which is fine as long the sheriff is able to get some of his stuff to sell.  He'll know what it's like to have someone take his things without permission to do so too.

    As for now, I'm waiting until the date I listed in the demand letter before starting any paperwork. 

  • 12-01-2012 3:06 AM In reply to

    • DOCAR
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    Re: Out of state civil case

    Realize that a certain amount of personal property in Florida is exempt from seizure of property by the sheriff.  $1000 in equity in an automobile and $2000.00 of personal property adn 75% of wages.

  • 12-04-2012 5:57 PM In reply to

    • Liyros
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    Re: Out of state civil case

    Pray tell, what is this real paperwork you are referring to?

  • 12-04-2012 6:15 PM In reply to

    Re: Out of state civil case

    Liyros:

    Pray tell, what is this real paperwork you are referring to?

     

    I believe he is refering to a written agreement that he would take responibility for your property. He could claim you moved away and just left the stuff.

  • 12-04-2012 6:34 PM In reply to

    Re: Out of state civil case

    Small claims is cheap and informal. Go to the country he lives in, court website and you might be able to download the forms there. You still will have to properly serve him and then you likely have to serve him the notice of default.

    Court TV programs love this stuff. You might get contacted by one of the shows. You both have to agree to appear though but it is a good way to get your money if you win, and if he loses the judgement still goes on his record.

     

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