can I be sued for not paying someone back even if it was a gift?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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can I be sued for not paying someone back even if it was a gift?

I am being sued from my ex-girlfriend because I broke up with her. She wants everything back that she bought for me. For example: a vacuum, a puppy and a bed. She says it all costs $500 she got if for me when we were together. She kept threatened me that if I didn’t pay her she would sue me. I said I would pay her back but I didn’t because I feel like I don’t need to

because they were gifts. Can she actually sue me for this? Do I need to respond to her? And I don’t have any of the texts ?

Asked on June 29, 2016 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If they were gifts, there is no obligation to repay them: a gift has no obligation of payment, and a gift, once given, belongs to the recipient; the giver has no interest in or right to the gift. So legally, you do not have to pay her.
That said, if she is prepared to lie and claim that these were not gifts but were rather her property which you took, she could file a lawsuit. If she does, you have to respond to the suit--if you are sued and fail to respond, you will lose by "default" (like forfeiting a ball game by not showing up to play). If you don't have any documentation (e.g. cards, emails, texts) where she said these things were gifts, it may come down to your word against hers in court.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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