Thank you for your clarification. How I can do now?
Well, first we have to understand what they can attempt to do here. They can attempt to sue you.
To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract
," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state.
Here, with some elements embellished as Plaintiffs always do, they can attempt to sue for (1) money had and received and (2) fraud.
An action for money had and received "is recognized as an action - an obligation which the law creates in the absence of agreement when one party possesses money that in equity and good conscience he ought not to retain and that belongs to another" Parsa v State of New York, 64 N.Y.2d 143, 148).
As to pleading requirements, the essential elements for this cause of action are that "(1) the defendant received money belonging to [the] plaintiff, (2) the defendant benefited from receipt of the money, and (3) under principles of equity and good conscience, the defendant should not be permitted to keep the money." 22A NY Jur 2d, Contracts, § 520, at 244
The essential elements of a cause of action for fraud are "representation
of a material existing fact, falsity, scienter (knowledge of this falsity), deception and injury." Channel Master Corp. v Aluminium Ltd. Sales Corp., 4 NY2d, at 407, supra
Now, this is what they can attempt to do. Of course, whether or not they are successful depends on whether they can prove the elements of each cause of action. They are unlikely to be able to prove fraud, but they may have a case for money had and received
Having said that, someone in your situation may have an "affirmative defense
" that you reasonably believed that the payments were correct, and as such, had relied on them and spent the money. This borrows on the concept of "estoppel" (RIPPLE'S v. Le Havre Assoc., 88 AD 2d 120 - NY: Appellate Div., 2nd Dept. 1982
), i.e. reasonable reliance, although I must say that it is not a strong defense in a case such as this.
If you were to write a letter back using an attorney (this is best, XXXXX XXXXX may understand that you would mire them in litigation
and may decide to simply not to pursue this matter) that you plan to fight any such accusation, they may decide to leave you alone.
May I recommend the NY Bar referral program - here
. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.
Ergo, someone in your situation may wish to write back a letter using an attorney stating all this, and perhaps the entity will back off.
Best of luck.
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