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What are the odds of being sued for not paying a civil demand from Nordstroms?

Twin Peaks, CA |

I was caught shoplifting from Nordstroms in California. The items I was taking were rounded out to be 200 dollars. I was cooperative with the man and woman taking my information. They took down all my information, with pictures of the clothing I had taken, along with putting all the information in their computer. I called the civil claims and was told to call back when I received a letter in the mail telling me how much I owe, and to call back to set up a payment plan. I have not received the letter yet, and it has been over 3 weeks. My question is, if I ignore the letters they send, what are the odds I will be taken to court? My next question is, how will the documented information of the incident be used if I am taken to court?

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Attorney answers 3


Slim to none.

If and when you receive a civil demand letter, you do not have to pay it.

A civil demand is not a debt and you would only have to pay it if they successfully sued you. The likelihood of that happening is almost zilch. Assuming they recovered the merchandise and put it back on the shelf to be resold, they really aren't out any money.

Paying or not paying the civil demand will have no effect on any criminal actions which might be brought against you.

Learn from this mistake, and don't shoplift anymore.

Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

Evan Andrew Gould

Evan Andrew Gould


...but be prepared for a string of threatening letters to follow for a period of time.


I would be hard pressed to believe they would sue you over $200. The court costs and attorney fees do no justify going after you. There is always the possibility they want to make an example of you but think about it - who would know? So no point worth making.
With out knowing what you may have signed or what video may show I could not say what the evidence is or what your chances are of winning or losing.


A civil demand letter creates not independent obligation to pay.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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