What can you do if someone refuses to return your belongings?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What can you do if someone refuses to return your belongings?

My fiance’s previous employer, who was also his friend was holding some of our be l innings while we moved and now will not let us have them. What action can I take to get it back?

Asked on January 3, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The most straightforward and easiest way to proceed is to sue him for the value of the belongings, in small claims court so long as the value does not exceed the small claims limit. He has no right to hold or keep another's belongings, but only a court can force him to return them or pay for them. You sue based on "conversion"--a kind of theft where someone refuses to return ("converts" for his own use) money or items entrusted to him by another. You sue for the monetary value since a lawsuit for money is much simpler procedurally than one for a court order for the items' return, but the matter can be resolved or settled by him agreeing to return the belongings.

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