how can I get my personal tools back from my boss that does not want to give me my belongings?

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how can I get my personal tools back from my boss that does not want to give me my belongings?

I started working for my wife’s step
dad’s company Chaparral Garage doors
co. On January 2017 – May 2017 . He
fired me due to a accident I had during
work on my way to the shop. I exchanged
insurance information with the person I
hit. Luckily it was not a bad accident
and the woman said it was fine because
nothing happened to her vehicle. The
company truck only had a minor hood
dent. I got to the shop and talked to
my Father in law about what happened he
was upset and told me to leave on the
spot without fully explaining what had
happened. I called him the next day to
get my personal belongings and he told
me ‘NOT UNTIL YOU PAY ME 5,000 FOR THE
REPAIRS OF THE CO. TRUCK’ . Until now
June 2017 he has not answered my calls
and I need my tools for the job I have
now. What can I do to get my personal
belongings. All I want is my tools
back. My wives mom has tried to bribe
us with cash to balance out the value
of my tools. But we don’t want their
money. I want my tools. Please help.
What can I do to get my stuff back.
Thank you

Asked on June 8, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You sue him for the tools--he has no right to keep them, even if he believes you owe him money. (If you were driving carelessly and so were at fault for the accident, you would owe for the repairs, but the legal way for him to get that money would be to sue you.)
However, you may wish to take the cash value of the tools; here's why--
1) The easiest, cheapest (no need for a lawyer), fastest way to sue is in small claims court. But in small claims, you cannot get a court order for the tool's return; you can only get their cash value--which is what you are being offered.
2) You could seek a court order requiring that these tools be returned, but to do so, you'd need to file in regular county court and seek injunctive and/or declaratory relief (a court order). This is slower; the filing fees and process service costs are higher; and it is procedurally much more complex than a small claims case--while you technically do not need an attorney (you may do this "pro se"), it would be easy to make a mistake and lose for that reason if you were your own attorney. So to seek a court order order for the return of these tools can be expensive (if you get a lawyer) and/or burdensome (without an attorney).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You sue him for the tools--he has no right to keep them, even if he believes you owe him money. (If you were driving carelessly and so were at fault for the accident, you would owe for the repairs, but the legal way for him to get that money would be to sue you.)
However, you may wish to take the cash value of the tools; here's why--
1) The easiest, cheapest (no need for a lawyer), fastest way to sue is in small claims court. But in small claims, you cannot get a court order for the tool's return; you can only get their cash value--which is what you are being offered.
2) You could seek a court order requiring that these tools be returned, but to do so, you'd need to file in regular county court and seek injunctive and/or declaratory relief (a court order). This is slower; the filing fees and process service costs are higher; and it is procedurally much more complex than a small claims case--while you technically do not need an attorney (you may do this "pro se"), it would be easy to make a mistake and lose for that reason if you were your own attorney. So to seek a court order order for the return of these tools can be expensive (if you get a lawyer) and/or burdensome (without an attorney).


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