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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    7

    Default Civil Claims vs. Small Claims

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: California

    I tried filing a small claims against a guy who owes me about $4,000.

    He bought a laptop under my credit and was paying the interest of it and then stopped paying it in general. The laptop was purchased in August 2008 for $1,700 and he still owes the company $1500. I told him to return the laptop to me since he stopped making the payments and now he refuses to return it to me and not pay for the bill. I've been making the payments to save my credit. I asked for the laptop many times and have written proof that the laptop is mine and he said he would make the payments. He has not and he said he'd only give it back to me if I pay him back what he paid for it already.

    I tried to get it back, but then he moved out of the state. He now lives in Georgia. He also owes me other expenses which I have written proof that he said he'd pay me back. I tried to reason with him and tried to take him to Small Claims but was rejected because he moved out of state.

    I don't know what to do. He has my laptop that I am paying for and I can't file a criminal charge as well as small claims. The crime happened in California. Now he is out of state.

    What can I do?

    Not to mention, I helped cosign on a student loan ($8,500), which he isn't paying for, but that is my fault. I should had learned what that was. I was naive and didn't know anything about credit. So I know I can't do anything about that, but at least I can take care of the other stuff he said he'd pay me back for. I also have written proof he said he'd pay for the student loan if I paid it.

    But what can I do?

    Oh, and the agreement happened in California. I tried filing it here but they did not accept it because he lives out of state. He used to live in California. I have his old address as well.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Small Claims - He Moved Away

    You will need to sue him in Georgia and then all you have to do is collect, if/when you win a judgment.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Small Claims - He Moved Away

    Does that mean I have to fly to GA to fight in court? I have all the written documents and proof and the fact he has my laptop.

    Also, if I sue in GA, how can they make sure I get my money since I'm a California resident?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: Small Claims - He Moved Away

    Naive is not the word I would use. I trust you will not be so stupid again.

    First, if any money is paid on a transaction, it is civil, not criminal.

    For instance, a singer from Vegas who lived here for a while purchased a boat with $500 down and owed another $5,000 on it. He did not make any of the payments. The seller of the boat wanted him arrested. No, won't happen, because he made a payment. It is a civil matter.

    Thus, you have NO criminal recourse whatsoever.

    If it was your laptop and he didn't make any payments on it, and he simply made off with it, that would be theft and the amount would make it a felony.

    You have no place in Georgia for the answer to be returned. You would need to hire an attorney in Georgia to file the civil action and accept the answer, and so forth. You would not need to appear in Georgia until the trial.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Small Claims - He Moved Away

    THEY don't make sure of anything. It is up to you to collect on a judgment. And unless you can hire an attorney to represent you in Georgia (I haven't checked) you would have to show up to sue this guy, in Georgia.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: Small Claims - He Moved Away

    If he was in California at all times relevant to the transaction, later moving to Georgia, you can sue him in California - but if you want to use California small claims court you must serve him while he's in California.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Small Claims - He Moved Away

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    If he was in California at all times relevant to the transaction, later moving to Georgia, you can sue him in California - but if you want to use California small claims court you must serve him while he's in California.
    Is he also not then faced with domesticating the judgment to Georgia so as to be able to collect the judgment in Georgia?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: Small Claims - He Moved Away

    If he wants to enforce the judgment through the Georgia's court system, yes, but there would not be the same type of defenses to domesticating the judgment as California has both personal and subject matter jurisdiction in relation to the underlying deal/loan.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: Filing in Small Claims After the Defendant Moves Away

    The transaction took place in CA, so you are saying he could sue in CA under a long arm theory for personal jurisdiction? You didn't actually state the theory you are suggesting.

    Although I am not familiar with CA law on personal jurisdiction, that might fly. The plaintiff would have to convince a judge of that. Have no idea if you can do that in small claims. The plaintiff still has to serve the defendant who is likely to object to long arm jurisdiction if he has any sense or hires an attorney.

    If the plaintiff did win, he would still have to hire an attorney in Georgia to file the judgment and collect on it, assuming there is anything to collect.
    Still, it would be lots cheaper than suing in Georgia.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Filing in Small Claims After the Defendant Moves Away

    gotcha!





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