How do I proceed if someone owes me for breaking an item of mine costing $400 and she denies she broke it but mutual friends state otherwise?

What is the best way to pursue this situation? Do I go to small claims court? Mediation? Arbitration? I have already tried to talk to her myself but she has avoided me (changed her number). I was not with her when she broke my item but 2 mutual friends were with her and one of them told me she did something to my property and so I will never get it back. I did not lend her the property. I lent it to her ex boyfriend. She took it without his nor my consent.

Asked on August 15, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the person, who took and broke your item, for conversion.  Conversion is the unauthorized assumption and exercise of the right of ownership over goods or personal property belonging to another, to the alteration of its condition or the exclusion of the owner's rights.  Conversion is any unauthorized act which deprives an owner of property permanently or for an indefinite time.

Your damages (monetary compensation you are seeking in a lawsuit for conversion) would be forced sale which means the value of the item.   You can have your friend testify as a witness as to what happened to your personal property. 

You can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court. In addition to the $400 value of the item you are claiming as damages in your lawsuit, your damages should also include court costs which would be the court filing fee and process server fee.

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