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Marsha411JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 19693
Experience:  Licensed Atty, 29 yrs exp in the practice of law.
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I have been involved in an on again, off again relationship

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I have been involved in an on again, off again relationship with a man for the past 3 years but it for the most part was kept in the zone of friendship only. A year ago, I received a pretty large lump sum of income due receiving back pay from SS disability. I am a single mother of 2 with epilepsy and was forced to retire from my previous career as a school teacher. Well, this person and I referred to each other as best friends and he has always been very helpful to me in times of need such as falling during a seizure, needing to go the hospital, checking in on me when I'm alone and not answering phone calls, checking to see if I need anything regularly since I am unable to drive. However, he also has been in a financial black hole since before I met him 3 years ago. He's only ever worked as a pro golfer but at 42 and in a less affluent county, he has been struggling to get back on his feet after taking time off to move into a sober house and deal with his serious alcohol problem...which he continues to battle and that is something I try and help him with. Soon after I came into this money, he popped back into my life in a much more regular boyfriend kind of way and I went for it hook, line and sinker. Like I said, best friend for 3 years prior. But he came with a business plan that he knew would get him on his feet for good if he could only get a, b and c. He had a list. In no time, he had moved himself in...this happened really without much of a conversation, just seemed to happen before I realized it even had. I agreed to help him get what he needed for his business and he would make me a partner verbally anyways. Once he got on his feet, he would begin to pay me back until ultimately I would be paid in full no matter how long that took. He would also stay with me and help me with areas I was having trouble in such as running errands and dealing with seizures when alone. He ultimately before I realized what happened (he had my debit card almost continuously because he was the one who could drive and was out there picking up items I needed.) But before I knew what hit me, I was down close to 15K that I could unequivocally attribute to him. Aside from the necessities required for his golfing business, I was also letting him live here rent free, feeding him, but what I really took a hit on was adding up his daily expenditures at gas stations and convenience stores. I was knowingly buying his gas and cigarettes but when I sat down and added up one month, he was spending minimum $600 on those items. And a whopping 2-3,000 at various grocery stores monthly. I can feed my family for easily 5-600 so I have no idea where all this money was going except that he may possibly have been keeping cash back with every purchase he made and no, I can't prove that. But I do have receipts for all the golf equipment that he has in his possession that is worth easily 5,000 and since he has moved out unexpectedly to be with other women once I was out of money, he refuses to return any of the equipment nor could he if he wanted to pay me cash for it. In addition, I spent another 5K or so on things he can't return such as clothing, business cards, printer ink, business Tshirts, etc. He now refuses to even speak to me. So he is leaving me backed against a corner and flat broke. I do have text messages from him declaring that he is going to pay me back every penny starting ASAP as well as a message where he refers to me as his silent business partner. So do I have any recourse if for nothing else, to get the equipment that is practically brand new that he holds in his possession and refuses to return nor pay me for? Thank you in advance.
Lisa...who is in FL if that helps :-)

Thank you for the information and your question. You may arguably have a breach of contract (verbal) if you can convince the court that there was an agreement from the beginning that he would pay you back. Also, if he is actually making any profit from his business and the agreement was to actually be partners, then you might have that as a breach of contract option as well. That though would not necessarily carry over to everything that you gave him,or he spent, since some of that is personal living expenses which would not be directly related to the business.

One problem though in pursuing this with a lawsuit is that Florida Small Claims Court only handles cases up to $5000. So, if you are seeking more than that, you would have to hire an attorney to file suit in district court, which will initially cost you a retainer up front. You might be able to recover that amount if you prevail in your suit if the court will make the other party pay your attorney's fees, but there are no guarantees.

Of course, maybe just getting a letter from an attorney would light a fire under his behind and scare him into giving you the money, or at least some of the money he owes you.

Let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you...really I would be happy to just get the equipment I purchased back as getting any real cash type money out of him would be pointless since he has none. But the equipment I could easily sell and recoup close to $5000 of my expenditures. I have receipts and as I stated in my original posting, as far as proving intent to pay back, I have text messages written by him saved where he specifically states that intent clearly. So based on what is hopefully a clearer picture of what I expect to recoup and what evidence I have, where do you think I stand?

Hello again,

Thank you for your reply. Although having the receipts will help, you definitely need to establish that the equipment was not a gift, but instead a loan or a business deal with a promise of repayment. If you can establish that either by your testimony or by emails, that this was not a gift, then the court might order that he turn the equipment over to you. However, most of the time, courts would rather not get into the business of ordering someone to give another person a piece of personal property versus ordering money. Perhaps if you go to a local attorney, they can write him a letter and tell him that he has a choice. Either he gives you the items you seek, or you will sue him for the money.
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