What to do if being accused by ex-boyfriend of stealing his personal property?

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What to do if being accused by ex-boyfriend of stealing his personal property?

My daughter moved in with her boyfriend, and after only 3 weeks he got mentally and physically abusive. The last fight the cops had him leave the premises for 24 hours, in which time I convinced her to leave and just get her things out. I had gave them furniture to use until they got their own, so I got the big items out and she got her clothes, etc. He was very upset when he came home and saw that she had left. So now he is filing a suit saying that she stole some personal property – which she didn’t do. We really can’t afford a lawyer.

Asked on November 4, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Assuming he can make what's called a "prima facie case," which is not hard--it's just showing that you've stated facts that, if true, would entitle you to a judgment in your favor (the purpose of the trial is to determine which facts are true and which are not)--the ex-boyfriend will likely be able to get to court. At that point, you daughter will have to defend herself. She can do so herself--present evidence showing, for example, that she only took items provably hers--though having a lawyer is STRONGLY recommended. Or if the amount he's suing for is small, it may make sense to settle the matter by paying him (either the whole amount or some lesser amount she and he agree to) and in return getting to sign a release releasing her from any future lawsuits or liability. But again, assuming his case is not ridiculous, he can at least initiate a lawsuit, which presents the basic issue of defend or settle.

Note that if he has stolen anything from your daughter, or defamed her, or injured her physically, it may be possible to counterclaim against him, which can provide an offset to what he's seeking and/or leverage to get him to drop the matter.


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