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  1. #1

    Default Sued for Failing to Pay Off a Used Car

    My question involves small claims court in the state of: MI

    We purchased a vehicle from my father in law in 2004. Title was signed over to us and we thought that was it. After a falling out with him in 2010, we got papers stating we owe him $3000.00 (Max ammount in MI) and had stopped paying him for the vehicle.

    Were assuming its about the vehicle in question because the the only reason stated on the affidavit and claim form is "stop making payment".

    My first question is that "stop making payments" pretty vague? doesnt he at least need to tell us what we stopped making payments on. Wouldnt the judge just throw it out based on that alone?

    Next we purchased his home from him in July 2010. Prior to that we were making rent payments, property taxs and repairs. We paid him by transfering funds from one bank account to another.

    Could we countersue him in small claims court for these costs? perhaps not the rent but the repairs and property taxs that we paid?

    Last question if he claims we owe him money, doesnt he at least have to have some paperwork stating we promised to pay him 'X' for item 'Y'. I mean people could give things away then claim there owed money for them.

    Thank you in advance for any advice and help. If I left out anything important fact wise let me know I will do my best to fill in the deatails.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    It's small claims. You can expect the judge to let him clarify his complaint on the record. You're free to try to argue that you had no idea what the complaint was about and that you should get a dismissal or an adjournment giving you more time to prepare; I can't promise that the judge or magistrate will do either but, depending upon the full facts, if requested an adjournment seems most likely.

    I have no way of determining why you think he owes you money for taxes you paid on a home you were renting from him, prior to your buying the home. I expect that he would argue that your payment of taxes and performance of repairs was consistent with the informal, possibly below-market rent you were paying and that the changes you wanted to make in anticipation of buying the house, and/pr that the negotiated purchase price of the home reflects any money "owed" in relation to any such payments.

    If you owe him money, he can sue you based upon the fact that you owe him money.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    Thank you for the help. We will do just that ask the judge exactly what this is about. We suspect the car so we will also bring documents that show we bought it 5/17/04. Someone mentioned the SOL runs out after 6 years so even if its the car we will ask the judge to dismiss on that basis.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    The statute of limitations starts to run on the date you default, not the date of your contract. So you need to think in terms of when you made your last payment on the car.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    See thats our ultimate question. We bought the car had the title signed over to us on 5/17/04. Now were being sued over 'money' he claims we owe on it. We had no verbal or written agreement to make any payments at all.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    To be clear it was a gift

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    Quote Quoting Big_Tony
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    We purchased a vehicle from my father in law in 2004.
    Quote Quoting Big_Tony
    View Post
    To be clear it was a gift
    It was one or the other.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    Im sorry, Just using the words purchased. Probably shouldnt do that. The truck was given to us.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    Even if this was a sale on the promise of payment but with no payments ever made, if more than six years passed between the date of the transaction and the date the lawsuit was filed (with no payments ever made) you can argue to the court that the six year statute of limitations bars the action. If your father-in-law can document receipt of a payment toward the vehicle within the six year period prior to his filing the lawsuit, he can argue that the statute began to run on the date of the most recent payment (or, if payments were monthly, possibly a month later when you missed the payment.) But from what you've told us there would be no payment history for him to present to the court.

    I suggest being prepared to argue the statute of limitations even assuming this was a gift, because I can't promise you that the court will accept your story ("it was a gift") over your father-in-law's ("it was a sale"). I would not suggest doing in court what you did here - describing the "gift" as a "purchase" - I would expect such a slip to have the court lecturing you about how you tried to pull the wool over its eyes and couldn't even keep your story straight.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Confusing Small Claims Complaint

    I agree Im learning wording is ALL critical in the legal world.

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