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Question: I filed a small claims complaint against a former roommate of mine when after I decided to leave he only gave me some of my personal belongings back and kept other items that he knew were important to me. I won the case and received a judgment for the amount that I requested. However, in the complaint two of the items I did not place a dollar amount next to because I knew he was still in possession of them (two portraits drawn by my brother that are very dear to me) and I wanted them returned. He had indicated in his Answer that he was in fact in possession of those items but wanted to be reimbursed for framing them. The hearing officer indicated we would need to take up the matter in a different forum due to the fact that they were personal property that I wanted to have returned. After the judgment was ordered I prepared a letter to the defendant and requested that he return the portraits to me and deduct the cost of framing from the judgment and I would then give him a satisfaction of judgment and we would be finished with this matter. About two weeks later I received a check for the amount of the judgment and a letter stating that he no longer was in possession of the artwork (he did not state what in fact became of my portraits). I decided to have the artwork appraised as I had photographs of the artwork as well as other drawings my brother had done. I then prepared a demand letter, again in an effort to resolve the matter without going to court. He did not respond in the time in which I had requested - (20) days. My question is do I have the right to file a Complaint for Conversion of Personal Property requesting to be compensated for damages (the price for the artwork as well as punitive damages and costs incurred)? And, if so, can I still file in small claims court as long as the amount I am seeking does not exceed $2,500 exclusive of court costs?

Answer: Arizona Revised Statute 12-542 states Arizona’s statute of limitations for conversion of property, which is the maximum amount of time to pursue legal proceedings. It states: “Except as provided in section 12-551 there shall be commenced and prosecuted within two years after the cause of action accrues, and not afterward, the following actions: 1. For injuries done to the person of another including causes of action for medical malpractice as defined in section 12-561. 2. For injuries done to the person of another when death ensues from such injuries, which action shall be considered as accruing at the death of the party injured. 3. For trespass for injury done to the estate or the property of another. 4. For taking or carrying away the goods and chattels of another. 5. For detaining the personal property of another and for converting such property to one's own use. 6. For forcible entry or forcible detainer, which action shall be considered as accruing at the commencement of the forcible entry or detainer.” Generally, the amount of damages recovered for conversion of property is fair market value. However circumstances such as fraud, gross negligence or other egregious acts can increase the amount of damages recovered. For information specific to your case, please speak with an attorney. Small claims suits must ask for $3,500 or less. The types of claims that can be filed in small claims court are: money debts, personal injury, property damage, and contracts.(http://justicecourts.maricopa.gov/CaseTypes/smallclaims.aspx)

QUESTIONS

  • I filed a small claims complaint against a former roommate of mine when after I decided to leave he only gave me some of my personal belongings back and kept other items that he knew were important to me. I won the case and received a judgment for the amount that I requested. However, in the complaint two of the items I did not place a dollar amount next to because I knew he was still in possession of them (two portraits drawn by my brother that are very dear to me) and I wanted them returned. He had indicated in his Answer that he was in fact in possession of those items but wanted to be reimbursed for framing them. The hearing officer indicated we would need to take up the matter in a different forum due to the fact that they were personal property that I wanted to have returned. After the judgment was ordered I prepared a letter to the defendant and requested that he return the portraits to me and deduct the cost of framing from the judgment and I would then give him a satisfaction of judgment and we would be finished with this matter. About two weeks later I received a check for the amount of the judgment and a letter stating that he no longer was in possession of the artwork (he did not state what in fact became of my portraits). I decided to have the artwork appraised as I had photographs of the artwork as well as other drawings my brother had done. I then prepared a demand letter, again in an effort to resolve the matter without going to court. He did not respond in the time in which I had requested - (20) days. My question is do I have the right to file a Complaint for Conversion of Personal Property requesting to be compensated for damages (the price for the artwork as well as punitive damages and costs incurred)? And, if so, can I still file in small claims court as long as the amount I am seeking does not exceed $2,500 exclusive of court costs?

STORIES

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