Can I sue someone for furniture financing that I put in my name to help them out?

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Can I sue someone for furniture financing that I put in my name to help them out?

I helped out a friend late last year in financing a bed. I put it in my name completely, but it went to her house. We made an agreement that she would just give me the money every month for the payment. We were pretty close and I trusted her completely. Well, it went fine for the first couple of months but then she started to tell me shouldn’t, couldn’t cover the entire thing and asked if I could help out. Soon, she completely stopped giving me money. So for the past few months I have been trying to scavange up the cash to pay for it myself so it won’t hurt my credit. She will not return my calls or texts and I just cannot afford it anymore. Can I sue her to or at the very least have the bed brought to my house? It was probably the stupidest thing I have ever done; I have definitely learned my lesson

Asked on May 7, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From what you have written, it appears that you bought a bed--on time, by financing it, rather than paying the full price up front--and now are letting a friend buy it from you (and use it in the meantime) by making monthly payments to you, which the friend has failed to do.

If the above is correct, then you have two options, assuming you and your friend cannot work something out (e.g. she doesn't offer to give you the bed back as satisfaction of her debt, and you don't accept that):

1) You could sue her for breach of contract--for violating the oral (or verbal) agreement between the two of you--and seek the money which she owes you under the agreement.

2) You could seek a court order requiring her to turn the bed over to you if she can't pay for it.

The above are not entirely mutually exclusive--you could sue her for payments she missed to date and also to get the bed back; or you could sue her for payments to date and the future payments she owes you under the agreement, but leave her the bed. You can't get the bed and the future payments.

Of the two, 1) is the better option for several reasons. First, you can sue for monetary compensation in small claims court, where you can act as your own lawyer and save on legal fees--whereas to get a court order directing her to turn over the bed, you'd have to go to county court where the process and rules are more complicated and you'd likely need an attorney. Second, if she's been using the bed, there's no telling what shape it's in; and third, related to that, if she's ordered to give the bed to you, she may damage it.

So your best bet is most likely to bring a suit in small claims court for monetary compensation.


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