Can I sue my mother in law for keeping our furniture from us?

Long story short we don’t get along. About 8 months
ago when we were getting along we had stored
some couches, a bedroom set and personal
belongings in her basement. We’re currently moving
to a house that can fit all of our belongings and are
wanting to get them back. Hasn’t answered our texts
so finally threatened a sheriff on her. Sheriff called
her and she said there is no furniture that belongs to
us at her house. Which means we can’t even go over
there with a sheriff since there isn’t anything of ours
over there. She’s either lying to the sheriff or she
really did get rid of our stuff What should I do??
Can I sue her if she really got rid of our belongings
without our concent? Should I take her to civil court?
I’m in Virginia btw

Asked on March 30, 2016 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if you believe that she has taken or disposed of your belongings, you can sue her for its value. To win, you'd need to prove in court by a "preponderance of the evidence" (or that it is more likely than not), by using credible testimony and any documentary evidence (e.g. do you have texts or emails from her acknowledging the furniture? do you have receipts for any of the items, which you'd be unlikely to have unless you'd bought them? etc.) that she took or disposed of your belongings. if the value of the items is less than the maximum for your small claims court, suing in small claims court, acting as your own attorney ("pro se") is a very good option.


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