Can I sue someone over a gift that was taken back?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I sue someone over a gift that was taken back?

My father gave me a car as a gift and then he decided to take it back. So I am just
wondering if I can sue him for the car or the value of the car?

Asked on October 3, 2016 under Business Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It depends: when he asked for it back, did you--even reluctantly or "under protest"--give it back? If you did, you "gifted" or gave the car to him: if you gave it to him no matter how much he pressured you, in the law's eyes, you voluntarily gave him the car, and it is now his. Having given the car to him voluntarily, you cannot take action against him. ("Voluntarily" does not mean "willingly" or "happily": it means he did not steal it or use force or threats of force to get trom you.)
If he simply took the car without your permission, then you could sue him for its value and/or for its return (procedurally, it's simpler to just sue for the value, though you can settle the case with him by his returning it). You could also file a police report and press charges: taking a car without someone's permission is theft.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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