What can i do if my freind refuses to pay for the computer he’s in possession of but has not yet paid for?

One of my husband’s friends has a computer we were selling him but he has not made any payment on the computer for over a year. Also, he owes my husband money from 5 years ago that he borrowed and is refusing to pay aback. What do we do? We went to small claims court and he told all kinds of lies and now the judge says that they believe our friend more than they do us. Now what do we do?

Asked on June 12, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if there was an agreement to sell the computer to your "friend" and you completed your end--you gave him possession of the computer--then he has to complete his end--he has to pay you. If he does not, you could sue and recover the money. You seem to know this, and apparently tried to sue him. However, if there is nothing in writing and your "friend" is more believable than you, the court will (and from what you write, apparently already has) rule against you.

If the court rule in your friend's favor, you could try appealing, but be aware that it is *very* difficult to overturn a court's judgment on the basis that the court got the facts wrong, especially when those facts are based on testimony, rather than documents. Appellate courts will defer to the factual determinations of the trial court--which had the advantage of taking the testimony, listening to the witnesses, etc.--unless they are very plainly wrong. Thus, as a practical matter, if you've already lost in small claims court, there is probably nothing you cann do: once you lose in court, you can't sue again for the same thing (your only option would be to appeal).

As for the loan: you are still within the statute of limitations to sue (6 years for an oral agreement; 15 years for a written one), so you can bring a legal action to recover the money under the loan. If you have nothing written, though, you may run into the same problem as you did with the computer sale.


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