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I purchased a car that had a lein on it from a private person for $3,000.

Rancho Mirage, CA |

On the bill of sale it was stated, which he signed, that he would provide me the title within 30 days. If he did not then the sale was voided. It has been about 80 days now. After repeatedly asking for the title, he still has not provided me the document. He claims the bank lost it and he filed lost title papers. Can I sue in small claims for breach of contract, return the car to him and get my money back?

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Attorney answers 2


Sure. That is the appropriate course of action.


You can sue but whether or not you can ask your small claims court to cancel the deal and make the seller take back the car will depend on your state law governing small claims courts. In most states that kind of court can only deal with money issues. Given how much is at stake, it would be worth your time to talk to a consumer law lawyer near you to find out for sure what your rights are and exactly what you can and can not do. In most states, the only way a person can have a legal interest in a motor vehicle is if their name is on the vehicle title. Nothing else counts. That means you have to have a title in your name to be the owner. It also means that you can’t sell a car without having the title in your name either. If you buy a car and never get title to it, then in most states you have the right to cancel the sale and get your money back. If you bought a vehicle from a private person (not a car dealer) and have not gotten the title yet, then the first thing to do is contact them and ask where it is and when you will get it. If you don’t want to wait any longer then you may already have the right to cancel the sale since failing to deliver the title to the buyer would be a breach of the sale contract. In fact, to find out what all of this means in your situation and in your state you really need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney near you. Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give a Vote Up review below. Thanks. Ron Burdge,

This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Click the link to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.