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Bappelman
Bappelman, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 313
Experience:  Former Public Defender, Founder and Criminal Defense Attorney at Appelman Criminal Defense LLC.
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What is the statue of limitations for theft in the state of

Customer Question

What is the statue of limitations for theft in the state of Indiana? This was an item worth $9500 that was stolen from my photography studio in September 2007. The client took the maternity disc of 62 jpg image files worth $150 each without honoring our original agreement that they would sign a model release agreeing to let me use the images for advertising and display. I sent the couple ONE letter stating that the sessions were complimentary in exchange for advertising and display use and that they did not have to sign the letter and return it to receive the sessions. This couple is now suing me for $6,000 because I refused to give them the newborn images without a signed model release for the maternity and newborn sessions.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Bappelman replied 5 years ago.
Hello Shortcake,

In your case I believe that you would be best served suing them in civil court, as opposed to attempting to make a criminal case against them. You certainly can still report them to the police for stealing your disc, but it is likely that not charges would be filed against them this long after the event took place.

What you have is a contract dispute with these people. You both entered into a oral contract (nothing was written down) with each other: You agreed to take the pictures and provide those pictures to the family for free, and they agreed to let you use their images in your advertising. No money was ever to exchange hands.

In Indiana the Statute of Limitations for oral contracts is 6 years, 10 years for a written contract. So you have plenty of time to file a Breach of Contract suit against these people.

You should check your local small claims court; most states put any claims under $10,000 into small claims court.

Good Luck!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
So since they are now suing me for $6,000 for the free sessions that they refused to sign a model release for, essentially stealing the images and cutting me out of our "oral" contract, should I then countersue for the value of the images that they took that day which is $9500 ($9300 in image file fees plus a $200 session fee)? I guess I'm just wondering if it should be a different lawsuit or a countersuit to their lawsuit. I do appreciate your time in answering this question. This service is wonderful.
Expert:  Bappelman replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the reply.

What are they suing you for? What are they claiming are their damages that you owe them $6,000?
Bappelman, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 313
Experience: Former Public Defender, Founder and Criminal Defense Attorney at Appelman Criminal Defense LLC.
Bappelman and 9 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
They are saying that I owe them $6,000 for "return of photographs" and the $6,000 is listed as damages. There is also a box checked on the lawsuit paperwork that says contract next to it. I'm not sure what they are referring to because the only thing written between us is a letter that I sent to them saying that they did not have to sign for the non-payment issue. They are saying because the letter I sent to them says no signature required that it means they are not under obligation to sign the model release at all. In Indiana, I do know that I can not legally use their images for their intended "advertising and display" use without a signed model release from each session. The intended "advertising and display" use was listed in the one letter that I sent to them but I did not attach a model release at that time because I usually go through those with clients in person so they understand that it's just a formality for legal reasons and that I will not be publishing their images in any commercial capacity. My intended use was a display of large portraits in a doctor's office. This couple flat out refused to sign any model release whatsoever.

So the $6,000 is because they say I have intentionally not provided the newborn images.

???
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Did you receive my last reply regarding what the $6,000 lawsuit was supposedly for?
Expert:  Bappelman replied 5 years ago.
OK.

I am not sure that they have a case against you. They are in essence claiming that you promised them free photographs, and they are now suing you for not giving them their "free" stuff.

This is not a contract. For a contract to be valid there has to be 3 separate pieces:

1. an Offer

2. an Acceptance of that offer

3. Something of value given by both sides (called "consideration")

In your view of this situation all 3 items were present:

1. your offer to take the pictures and give them copies, as long as you could use the images as well

2. They accepted the offer by chowing up and letting you take pictures

3. You each get consideration (they get pictures / you get use of those pictures)

In their version there is no consideration on their part - they simply claim you promised to give them free pictures. They will lose their claim.

You need to enter a counter claim - based on breach of contract. They owe you a model release, or the return of your images.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Since they received the digital files on CD, there is no way for me to really accept a "return" of the images because they have obviously made all the prints that they want thus far. So, to me, the return of the first disc of 62 image files is useless because they have probably already copied them to their computer, etc. I can see your point if it were actual photographic prints, but with the digital delivery of the files, I can't expect to fully take back possession of the images. ???

Also, in filing a countersuit, would you specify an amount? I guess I would have to, right? In this case, it would be $9500 or sign the model releases as originally requested.

Another question, how do I pay you extra for the extra answers here?
Expert:  Bappelman replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for the 'Accept' and the positive feedback.

As far as the images - you are correct, getting the actual disc back might just be a waste of time at this point. You could still ask the court to "enjoin" them from using the images - tell them they cannot ever use or show the images. Not worth a lot to you I realize, but the court can only do so much.

You should ask for the amount that you would have charged someone for the work you did. If all of your fees and costst would normally have been $9,600, then you should ask for that amount.

You can add a "bonus" to me if you want to. Not required of course, but a way to say Thanks!
Bappelman, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 313
Experience: Former Public Defender, Founder and Criminal Defense Attorney at Appelman Criminal Defense LLC.
Bappelman and 9 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I just added more to my account. I just sent another $30 for the extra answers. Thank you!!!

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