You have specific rights in the aftermath of an unwarranted or fraudulent auto repossession. Included on the list of those rights is the ability to initiate a lawsuit against the individual or business that committed the fraudulent auto repossession. In order to pursue such a civil lawsuit, you need to understand the underlying laws and procedures.
Prepare a demand letter immediately after the wrongful or fraudulent repossession of your automobile. Laws in most states require a demand letter to be sent in advance of filing a lawsuit.
Include in the letter the demand for the immediate return of your car. Add in the letter an additional demand for a specific amount of money to cover the damages you sustained as a result of the wrongful repossession. Set a specific deadline for both the return of your car and the payment of the compensation. Because of the nature of the matter, a deadline of a two or three days for the return of the automobile is an appropriate time frame.
Obtain a petition form from the court clerk. Court clerks typically maintain standard forms for use by individuals not represented by legal counsel. In the alternative, court clerks usually have court guideline books that include sample petitions.
Prepare the petition. Include the facts surrounding the fraudulent auto repossession.
Contend in the petition that the individual or business that wrongfully repossessed your car is guilty of conversion. Conversion is the legal term that covers fraudulent repossession.
Request money damages in the petition. You select a minimum dollar amount you desire for compensation but do not need to list a specific amount of money. For example, the petition can include a demand for compensation that reads:
"Wherefore the Plaintiff requests judgment in an amount in excess of $20,000."
Add a request for a temporary injunction preventing the person or business that repossessed the vehicle from taking any additional action to dispose of the vehicle. Additionally, include a demand for the immediate return of the car. The court will schedule a hearing on this part of your petition within a couple of days of the filing of the case due to the urgency of the matter.
File the completed petition with the clerk of the court.
- Consider hiring a lawyer to represent you in the matter of the wrongful auto repossession. Both the state and local bar associations maintain directories of attorneys in different practice areas, although these organizations cannot make recommendation a specific lawyer. Contact information for these groups is available from the American Bar Association.
- "Civil Procedure Examples & Explanations"; Joseph W. Glannon; 2008
- ConsumerJusticeCenter.com: Wrongful Repossession
- "Civil Procedure"; Stephen C. Yeazell; 2008
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