My question involves small claims court in the state of: Illinois.
Okay, here goes: My sister and I printed five photo albums with pictures of ourselves as a Christmas gift for various extended family members last year, December of 07. The albums went to our parents, three brothers and my godmother.
I recently was out to lunch with an old friend (I'll call her Elizabeth for the purposes of this post) who was visiting Chicago and staying with my ex-girlfriend (Ann) and her new boyfriend (Brad). Elizabeth is a mutual friend of myself and Ann, and though Ann and I broke up years ago, it can still be awkward for Elizabeth.
Elizabeth reported to me that Brad and Ann have an album full of pictures of me and my sister. It turns out that my godmother's copy somehow (this is ridiculous and frankly, kind of amazing) made its way into the hands of a close friend of Brad's (we'll call him Eric) while working at the same large company as my godmother (small world!). Eric mailed the photo album to Brad and Ann (who live together).
It is hurtful to me that my godmother may not have cared so much for my gift, but I have not ruled out the possibility that it was stolen or gotten through some kind of lie. I have not contacted my godmother about this for fear that she might immediately fire Eric, and I don't want to be party to anything that drastic.
What I want is for Brad to give me the photo album. The knowledge that he has it is sickening to me. This guy stole my girlfriend (and he can have her!) but he doesn't get to sit around with this personal memento of my family's just because of a coincidence.
I have contacted Brad, Ann, Elizabeth and Eric about having the calendar returned to me, but I received only vague responses from Eric and Elizabeth while Brad and Ann simply ignore my calls and emails. They seem to think the matter a very funny joke, and it is causing myself and my sister considerable distress. I am the victim of a game of playground keep-away, except the bullies here are all college-educated "adults".
Now, I know that you can't sue someone for being an asshole (right?), but do I have any kind of legal claim to the photo album itself? I spoke to a couple of police officers who told me that a cop could "mediate" the exchange, but that if Brad refused I would be helpless.
I don't know anything about small claims suits or what their intended purpose is, so if this a lost cause just let me know. But I know decking the guy would certainly be illegal, so I'm just exhausting all my other options. Any advice, legal or otherwise, would be greatly appreciated.
And just the fact that you've read this far is amazing. Thanks!