If 15 months ago I hired a local woman to do some work on a quilt with a verbal agreement which she breached, how do I get my property back?

After attempting to contact her for most of a year, I gave her a completion date of just over 3 months ago. She agreed. However, the quilt was not completed. I made multiple attempts to contact her and was finally able to about 2 weeks ago. I clearly stated that she was to return my property immediately (that day) to my place of work. She responded “OK” and hung up the phone but the quilt was not delivered. I have made many attempts via phone and voice mail which she will not respond to, in person at her residential address and via certified mail. I have not been able to make contact. Is my next step small claims court? Is there another avenue I should try first?

Asked on November 16, 2015 under Business Law, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In a case like this, when the other party has violated the agreement and is not returning your property--and not even responding to you--you first, last, and only recourse is to sue her; there is no other way to get the property back from her and/or get monetary compensation. For the amount at stake, suing in small claims, acting as your own attorney ("pro se") is the only practical choice. You can get intructions on filing the lawsuit and serving the papers, and most likely also sample or template forms, from your court, either in person or onine.

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