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  1. #1
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    Default Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: California

    I have filed a small claims action against a former domestic partner whom I also have a permanent RO on for a year. I have copies of texts proving that he repeatedly promised to give me his used car and did so for my birthday. In relying on his gift, to my detriment, I turned in my previous vehicle at the end of the lease. He, without my knowledge, had me removed from the registration and title to the car since they were held in his name OR my name, not AND. Although I have possession of the car, I cannot sell it, trade it, or insure it.

    1) Will the judge be able to order that he remove his name from the registration and title so the car is of use to me? He will not cooperate with me so whatever the decision is, I would like to know how it can be enforced.
    2) If not, what are the likely options for the judge to consider? The order of money is of little value to me since he will refuse to pay me.
    3) He has refused to give me household and furniture items I purchased and for which I have receipts. Are these items that can be awarded to me instead of a cash value being ordered?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    You have filed your small claims complaint and you will just have to wait for the court to hear your case and make a decision. No body here has a crystal ball.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    Quote Quoting KKay
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    I have filed a small claims action
    Meaning you have already filled out the small claims complaint form SC-100?

    https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/sc100.pdf

    In item 3 what dollar amount did you put and how did you explain the title and the furniture?

    Quote Quoting KKay
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    1) Will the judge be able to order that he remove his name from the registration and title so the car is of use to me? He will not cooperate with me so whatever the decision is, I would like to know how it can be enforced.
    Possibly, but you have to ask for it in addition to, or in lieu of, the dollar amount you put in item 3.

    Quote Quoting KKay
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    2) If not, what are the likely options for the judge to consider? The order of money is of little value to me since he will refuse to pay me.
    If he isn't going to obey a money judgment what makes you think he will obey any other terms of a judgment?

    Quote Quoting KKay
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    3) He has refused to give me household and furniture items I purchased and for which I have receipts. Are these items that can be awarded to me instead of a cash value being ordered?
    Yes, but you have to specify them or ask for the used value of the furniture.

    See CA Code of Civil Procedure Article 2 Small Claims Court

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/fa...5.5.&article=2.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    It may be possible to get the kind of relief you want, which is broadly known as equitable relief, but in California small claims court the judge may only provide that relief in lieu of or in addition to money damages. This means that you need to state a claim for money damages in your case and then seek the equitable relief as another alternative. If you just state a claim asking for equitable relief and no money damages the court would have to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

    Whether you'll get what you are seeking is another matter, and I don't have enough information about the case each you will present to make a good guess how that would turn out.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    Quote Quoting KKay
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    Will the judge be able to order that he remove his name from the registration and title so the car is of use to me? He will not cooperate with me so whatever the decision is, I would like to know how it can be enforced.
    A judge has that ability,*** but, in my view, based on the facts given, it would be erroneous for a judge to do so. By titling the car in "[his name] OR [your name]," all he did was give you an interest in the car, and that interest was subject to being divested at any time. You knew or should have known how title was held, so your reliance on it was, in my opinion, unreasonable.


    Quote Quoting KKay
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    If not, what are the likely options for the judge to consider?
    I don't entirely understand the question. However, IMO, you have no viable claim against your ex-boyfriend relating to the car.


    Quote Quoting KKay
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    He has refused to give me household and furniture items I purchased and for which I have receipts. Are these items that can be awarded to me instead of a cash value being ordered?
    Yes.


    *** - To elaborate on what "Taxing Matters" wrote: Section 116.220(a) of the California Code of Civil Procedure summarizes the jurisdiction (i.e., power) of a small claims court. Mostly, a small claims court has jurisdiction to award monetary damages (although there are a couple other things listed that don't apply to your situation). Sub-section (b) of section 116.220 states as follows: "In any action seeking relief authorized by paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, of subdivision (a), the court may grant equitable relief in the form of rescission, restitution, reformation, and specific performance, in lieu of, or in addition to, money damages." Your problem is that there's nothing to rescind (or do you want anything rescinded), nothing to restore (based on the facts given, it would be improper to order that you be added back to the car's title), nothing to reform, and nothing to specifically perform.

    That said, it is not correct that, "If you just state a claim asking for equitable relief and no money damages the court would have to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction." That sort of rigid adherence to formality does not happen in California small claims court.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    That said, it is not correct that, "If you just state a claim asking for equitable relief and no money damages the court would have to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction." That sort of rigid adherence to formality does not happen in California small claims court.
    While California small claims courts are generally more informal than other courts, how would the small claims court proceed in a case where it lacks jurisdiction? Without jurisdiction it would need to dismiss the case — it might not use the exact phrase "dismissed for lack of jurisdiction" — but the end result should be the same. Are you saying the court would still proceed to hear the case despite lacking jurisdiction?

  7. #7
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    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    Quote Quoting KKay
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    My question involves court procedures for the state of: California

    I have filed a small claims action against a former domestic partner whom I also have a permanent RO on for a year. I have copies of texts proving that he repeatedly promised to give me his used car and did so for my birthday. In relying on his gift, to my detriment, I turned in my previous vehicle at the end of the lease. He, without my knowledge, had me removed from the registration and title to the car since they were held in his name OR my name, not AND. Although I have possession of the car, I cannot sell it, trade it, or insure it.

    1) Will the judge be able to order that he remove his name from the registration and title so the car is of use to me? He will not cooperate with me so whatever the decision is, I would like to know how it can be enforced.
    2) If not, what are the likely options for the judge to consider? The order of money is of little value to me since he will refuse to pay me.
    3) He has refused to give me household and furniture items I purchased and for which I have receipts. Are these items that can be awarded to me instead of a cash value being ordered?

    Thank you.
    With respect to this business of the car I think there are a couple of remedial areas of relief to be examined.

    1. Without your express authorization did he have the right to remove your name from the certificate of title? And if not, can the court order a rescission of the transaction whereby your name was removed?

    2. Did he effectively gift to you his ownership rights to the car? that is to say do you have the ability to sustain your burden of proving the necessary elements of a gift by clear and convincing evidence?

    If you are interested in my experienced professional take on these issues and the matter or retrieving your personal goods, give me a shout. But only then will I do so because I'm not inclined to take the trouble of posting to a site where threads disappear from the board faster than Scott Adams' cheetahs leave a salad bar!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Small Claims and Keeping the Gift of a Car

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    While California small claims courts are generally more informal than other courts, how would the small claims court proceed in a case where it lacks jurisdiction?
    I would assume most would dismiss such a case, but I don't think this question is helpful to this discussion because it's premised on the notion that the court lacks jurisdiction solely because the plaintiff "just [states] a claim asking for equitable relief and no money damages," and I disagree with that.

    In the OP's case, the OP has a clear claim for monetary damages (separate and apart from the car). The OP alleges that his/her ex-boyfriend "refused to give [the OP] household and furniture items [that the OP] purchased and for which [the OP has] receipts." That's a claim for which monetary damages (the fair market value of the items) or equitable relief (the return of the items) would be appropriate. The nature of the claim and the court's jurisdiction doesn't change simply because the plaintiff requests one remedy instead of another. Part of the problem here is that the statute is internally inconsistent. On the one hand, sub-section (a) says that equitable relief is only available in a few, very narrow circumstances, but sub-section (b) then says that, if there's a claim for monetary damages (sub-section (a)(1)), the court MAY award equitable relief in lieu of or in addition to that relief. If the OP requested only equitable relief and the court doesn't believe it has jurisdiction to award it, it will tell the plaintiff that and say that he/she will have to prove monetary damages. The case isn't going to get dismissed simply because the plaintiff requested a remedy that the court doesn't have the power to award.

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