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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 28072
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
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I have received a letter demanding repayment for half the rent

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I have received a letter demanding repayment for half the rent money they ever paid me. during a mediation with her legal secretary, I paid $1800 she demanded in order to get a quit claim deed from her. Isn't this extortion? (This was a lease purchase agreement).

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

Legally, extortion requires that a person wrongfully take property from someone without his consent, through force or fear. Threatening to sue someone if they do not pay an amount that a person believes to be owed would not fall within the legal definition of extortion - an alternate rule would dissuade people from trying to work their differences out on their own without going to court.

With that said, that doesn't mean that you have to agree. You can make a counter-demand, insisting that she pay you some amount in order to avoid going to court, or you can let her know that you reject her settlement offer and will let the judge decide what amounts are owed between you.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I understand the Judge will make the final decision. My question is; since I did not breach the contract in any way, yet they did, was it extortion that I paid a $1800 just to get them to sign a quit claim deed even though they had already moved out? I also paid the mediator which she choose!

No, it's not. Parties to a lawsuit are allowed to agree to settle their disputes. Any person is allowed to raise any claim that he reasonably believes to be valid (even if it turns out not to have a legal basis).

It would be extortion to say something like "Pay me $1,800 or I'll burn your house down," but it's not extortion to ask someone to pay to avoid going to court over a genuine legal issue. The difference is, in the latter scenario, if you refuse to pay, that just means that you'll be going to court. That's not considered a legal injury.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The damage to my property is already done, and so to my check book. Are you saying I have no grounds for a S.C. court case? Our obligations to the contract are clearly listed. Do I have a case?

Extortion is a crime. It wouldn't be a civil cause of action in any event. The civil cause of action would be conversion, but there is nothing in what you've said to support that. What you're talking about is a simple breach of contract dispute.

A person who voluntarily signs a settlement agreement unfortunately does not have the ability to sue for a refund of monies paid under that agreement. However, if there was damage done to the properties or monies owed separately, it may be possible to sue for those monies. It depends on whether there is a signed piece of paper that says that the amount paid was a full and final settlement of all disputes. If you only paid for the deed, and you didn't sign anything agreeing to waive your other claims, you should still have the ability to sue for unpaid rent and damage to the property.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much!

You're welcome! Good luck, and have a nice weekend.