I let a friend move in with me in May 2015 because he was going through a rough patch and he told me he would pay me back for half the rent and utilities once he found a job. He never did. I've also lent him money for fines and court fees he had. He never paid it back. I also took out a lien on my car to help him find a place. He never paid me back. I also have maxed out my credit to help him out with several other things and he has not paid back any of the money I lent him.
He recently and secretly moved to San Francisco and has not answered a single call or email or message I have sent to him. I've estimated that since I've met him a little over a year ago, I've loaned him approximately $10,000. Is it possible to sue him and get my money back?
It's possibly but it's difficult. CA has a $10,000 Small Claims court limit for individuals, so you could sue for that amount, but you'd have to substantiate every dime of these loans, with documentary support being the most effective. One obstacle is this lawsuit would have to take place in SF were he lives, so you'd need to know where he lives or works so you can serve him. That means you have to go to appear in a SF Small Claims court.
If you win, you'd have to know where he works, to garnish his wages, or if he owns real estate you could record a judgment lien against his property.
CA judgments are good for 10 years and can be renewed for another 10 years, and they earn 10% interest until paid, sot hey're a good investment if you can afford to not get paid quickly.
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Honestly? You may could sue him in CA, but there is no possible way you will recover your money. In my opinion. This may be the most expensive lesson that you learn as an adult. I hope for you that it is the last one. "Neither a lender nor a borrower be."
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Is it possible? Maybe (it's about the same chance as snow in Miami). You'd have to fly back andforth to California to sue, prove that the money was a loan when you apparently got no paperwork (and he'll say it was a gift), and, if you win, figure out how to collect a judgment. Realistcally you learned two expensive lessons: (1) never loan money to people, as if they were decent risks a bank would loan them money and they'd never ask you and (2) get things in writing.
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Sure, it's possible. But, as others noted, the default rule would be that you sue the defendant where the defendant lives--California. You do not have to live there or go there constantly. I do not know what evidence you have, but you could bounce everything off of a California attorney to see if you have a claim and what the fees might be.
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