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Richard, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Attorney with 29 years of experience.
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My ex-mother in law made a payment on a car to carmax in April

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My ex-mother in law made a payment on a car to carmax in April of 2010. She has a cancelled check to Carmax for $12,000. Because I do not want to take her son back all of the sudden she is saying that I verbally said I was going to give her the title to the car when she made the payment. I never had that discussion with her as she owed me money and said that it would make us even, no me giving her a title was ever mentioned. Now 2 years later she served me with a lawsuit saying that I never gave her the title. This is only in retaliation because of personal problems with her son. I have always owned the title and recently sold the car and she feels it was her. Now she is 82 and slightly confused but I wanted to see since she is saying it is a "verbal agreement" how much grounds she has and if the statues of limitations since it is right at 2 years would prevail. Please help.
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.

Good morning. Unfortunately, you can never prevent someone from filing a suit against you. But, fortunately, she's not going to prevail in this matter. She has the burden of proving this was a loan rather than a gift. Without any written agreement indicating this was a loan, and since she wrote the check and title was issued in your name, in my experience a court is going to determine this was a gift that the donor is now trying to recharacterize due to a change in the marital relationship. Courts see this all the time and recognize it for what it is. And, without any promissory note or other document indicating that this was intended as a loan, she is not likely to prevail.

Thank you so much for allowing me to help you with your questions. I have done my best to provide information which will be helpful to you. If I have not fully addressed your questions or if you have any follow up questions, or if I have misinterpreted your questions in any way, please do not rate me yet, but simply ask a follow up question without rating so I can provide you with a fully satisfactory answer. If I have fully answered your question(s) to your satisfaction, I would appreciate you rating my service with 3, 4, or 5 faces/stars so I can receive credit for helping you today. I thank you in advance for taking the time to provide me a positive rating!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Great this makes me feel so much better. I was served and it is a jury trial so because she is 82 do you think that will weigh on the jury? I also have a legal document from years ago which shows that she will clearly lie to defend her son. So since she wrote the check 2 years ago exactly to this day is it not under a statue of limitations? Also is this something I would need to hire an attorney for or is it something I could defend on my own? Would this be an expensive case?

Thanks for following up. That statute of limitations in Kansas for an oral agreement is 3 years, so that won't help you. But, you should do fine on the merits. Once your mother in law tells her story, your documentation showing her past lies will discredit her. In addition, the fact that a court sees this all the time where a relationship goes south and all of a sudden one of the parties (or their relatives) wants to call everything a loan. Absent anything evidencing this as a loan, she won't prevail. Since this is not in small claims given the amount, I would suggest you get the help of a lawyer. This is not a complicated case so you don't need a long-time lawyer with a high billing rate; rather, a 1-2 year lawyer should be handle this for you easily. Under my terms of service with JustAnswer, I'm not allowed to make a specific recommendation, but I can give you direction. You would want to either contact the state bar association or your nearest law school for a referral. I prefer the latter because they take great pride in their graduates and will take a more personal interest in making sure your referral is a good one because it will be a reflection of the school.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Great so even a jury trial they won't feel sorry for an 82 year old woman, typically especially since I can give evidence of her character and I did get primary support from her son which is limited visitation for her son and her and that is also why she is trying to get me. My ex is saying that jury's would go for her because of her age. Just give me this last bit of hope if you can and you are my top expert and will rate you as such!

I don't think that is going to work. She's actually more likely to look like a vindictive mother in law trying to stick up for her son. In my experience, women like this don't come off well....and with your documentation, she's likely to look totally biased and non-credible.
Richard and 2 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Thanks so much for the positive rating and the generous bonus! I appreciate your kindness and the opportunity to serve you! If I can be of assistance to you in the future, just look me up and I will be happy to help!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for putting me a little bit at ease! I will follow your advice on the law school!

It's been entirely my pleasure.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hey I was very excited about your answers. Call the bar they said $2500 so started calling attorney's. Just talked to one and he is saying that she has a case because there is a check she wrote to carmax however waited two years to do anything and it is her burden to prove however they feel she has a good case although she is lying. I don't even know how to defend myself. I have recently sold the car, had insurance on it all these years. Except for once when all the cars were on one insurance plan and homeowner's, I have payed license plates, etc. Now I am scared and feel that I have no hope.

I couldn't disagree more. The fact that she wrote the check and didn't evidence it with any loan indicates a gift rather than a loan. And, only when the relationship sours does she decide to re-categorize it as a loan. I would not feel scared. If this goes to trial, and the lawyers are too expensive, you can represent yourself. I feel confident the jury or judge will see this for what it is. One other possibility for you would be to go to your nearest law school. Most of them have legal clinics that are run by law students and supervised by law professors that will take cases such as yours on a pro-bono basis to help the students, who are idealistic, energetic, and very bright, get experience while under the watchful tutelage of their law professors.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There is not a law school close to Wichita that I know of. This attorney just seemed nasty and the law suit says verbal he kept saying it is oral and only worried about the statutes. I don't even know what evidence that I can produce other than insurance, sold the car so don't have title, will I have to show title in court?

The burden is not on you; it is upon your mother in law. And, she has nothing to indicate this was a loan rather than a gift. Even verbally, it is a he said/she said and there is nothing indicating a loan.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Okay I am going to have faith in you then. Thank you so very much. The $12,000 won't be perceived as more of a loan than a gift because of the amount? Again she did it because she owed money, I had helped her out with taxes, etc, she was just being nice. Had let her son stay at my house. The other attorney says I might not be able to bring up the document saying she gets confused and covered for her son.

I think you'll be fine. If she had intended it to be a loan, she would have evidenced it as a loan. And, I think it will be very clear that had your marriage not gone south, no one will believe she would be filing this suit. So, a end of a relationship is not a legal basis to convert what was intended as a gift to be converted to a loan.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank you so very much you are my hero and I will call another attorney.

You're welcome...I hope you have a great weekend! You make me smile! :)
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Ah, and you are turning into my ray of hope!

Keep me informed as this plays out!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Okay will do, so what is your real name, can I ask that? My name is Debbie! If you legal guys connect on linked in we can connect. Debra Brock

My name is Richard. Unfortunately, under our terms of service with JustAnswer, we are only allowed to communicate with JA customers through the JA forum. :)
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Okay Richard,


Fair enough, you are terrific!

Thank you so much! You've made my day!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Wanted to let you know that my ex-Mother in law withdrew the lawsuit without prejudice. That is all the letter said. Does that mean that up until next April she would be able to open up the same thing again and sue me?

Good morning. That's good news! "Without prejudice" means that she has the right to refile; but, the reality is that she's not going to do that because she has no winnable case.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She is wanting her son and I to get back together and if that does not happen I could see her trying. However her backing out like this would work in my favor if she did try right?

Yes, that would be favorable to you. In the meantime, keep a notebook and save anything she says or does that makes reference to her claim being related to your getting back together.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hey remember me. So I think I told you the ex-mother in law dismissed without prejudice and I was nervous about her doing this again. But if this happenned in 4/2010 isn't only for 3 years so she can't right?

Yes...once the 3 year statute of limitations passes, you have an absolute defense.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Oh because I thought April 2013 she would not even be able to file because of the 3 year. So she can still file? The day she wrote the check was April, 1010?

If she advanced the money 4.10, the 3-year statute runs on 4.13. She can still file; but you would have an absolute defense.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Terrific and you are still my hero. So if she did I guess it would be thrown out due to the statues of limitations beign 3 years correct?

Thanks for the kind words! Yes, that is correct! Have a great day!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hey you! You helped me in the past and I gave you a nice commission. Wanted to ask you something else. This same ex-husband has now posted filth on the internet. Rip-off Report. I understand it is not a highly recommended source but he has basically said I have slept with everyone in my company, meth habit. Just horindous things. My friends have fought back and put anonymous excerpts to defend my honor. Now he posts he will sue. Isn’t this one that has a right to free speech and wouldn’t it be expensive for him to be able to do that? I would really appreciate your opinion on this.


Hi there! He's not likely to prevail in any suit because the truth is always a defense! But, you do have a cause of action because he is posting things that he knows are not true. Let me explain what defamation is and then you can make the determination whether or not it is something you wish to pursue. I
am going to provide you information on both slander and libel since they are so
closely related and so often confused with each other. They are civil injuries
that harm reputation, cause a reduction in respect, regard or confidence, or
cause disparaging, hostile or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an
individual or entity. The laws regarding libel and slander are the same. To
prevail in a defamation suit for libel or slander and recover damages, a person
("Person A") must prove 4 things: (i) another person ("Person B") conveyed a
defamatory message they knew or should have known to be false; (ii) the
material was published (i.e., conveyed to someone other than Person A); (iii) Person A can be identified as the person referred to in the defamatory material; and (iv) Person A suffered an injury to Person A's reputation as a result of the communication.
Typically, before actually filing the suit, you would send them a letter detailing the situation and demanding that they: i) retract all prior defamatory statements made, and ii) cease and desist from making any in the future. The letter usually resolves the issue because people hate to get sued. If you need a template for a letter, let me know.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Great! Rip-off report is a rag and probably none of my professsional engineer's would view it. So wouldn't it be hard to prove he hurt my reputation? Although when you google my name it pops up. Very hurtful. I responded back with court documents showing he lies, fraud food stamp charges, etc. All true to his character, so he is threatening to sue me. However he has not worked in 2 years. He I am sure used fake e-mails, whereas I did my real. He says he did not do it but one says his name and Husband and has social, birthdate, etc. I do not have any enemies in this world so it has to be him. He would have no grounds at all to sue, would he as he has not had income in 2 years and could not keep a job before that, so his reputation was not slandered and mine was based on facts. So if I use this template, does that need to come from a lawyer, or can I just send?

Not hard at all to prove the actual amount of damages. If you can show the material posted, there would be a presumption that this material would be damaging to your reputation because a "reasonable person" would consider it damaging; the court (or jury) would determine the amount of damages..which include actual damages and punitive damages. You can send the letter does not need to come from a lawyer.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Problem is he has no income and owns nothing. Everything is in his Mother's name so is it even worth it to me? He has not paid child support for 4 mths. Would love that template.

I've provided the template below. It's worth sending the letter because it's likely to stop his behavior. Then, you can determine whether to pursue the judgment; if you get a judgment, it stays in place for years and years so if he gets money in the future you can go after it.


Re: Notice to Cease and Desist Defamation
Dear _______________:
The purpose of this letter to is to put you on notice of potential legal action against you for the unwarranted and defamatory attacks and lies made by you in an attempt to ruin and damage my reputation. Your baseless and unwarranted actions and accusations have damaged my business reputation and caused serious and irreparable injury to both my reputation and my business. I will not stand by and allow this misconduct to continue.
I hereby demand that you immediately: i) retract any and all defamatory and disparaging remarks about me made by you; and ii) cease and desist in publishing or stating any defamatory statements about me.
I am not in any way attempting to restrict legitimate free speech, but your activities unlawfully encroach upon both my business and my reputation. This letter puts you on formal notice that should you refuse to comply with my demands immediately, I will have no choice but to pursue all legal causes of action, including the filing of a lawsuit, to protect my interests. I will pursue both actual and punitive damages plus attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result of your actions.
This is a very serious matter that requires your immediate attention. I have no sense of humor about your actions. This letter is the only one you will receive and the only chance you have to resolve this matter amicably.

[Your Name]

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I like the letter. So hiring an attorney for this would it be expensive? And he might have to pay attorney fees?

This is not a particularly complicated legal situation, so you don't need a extremely experienced lawyer. One with 2-3 years of experience could handle this for you. Yes, if you prevailed, you would be able to recover your legal fees in all likelihood!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.



He can't sue me right, because my stuff was true, my story and what he has done to me? Is that right? Plus he has not worked in 2 years.

You can never prevent someone from filing a suit; but, given these facts, he has no chance of prevailing in any such suit.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You are so wonderful. Thank you so much for your help. I am referring you to all my friends!

Thank you so much for your kind words! As always, it my honor and pleasure to help!

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