Legal Question in Military Law in Georgia

Nov 09 I lent a SGT in my unit $1500 with the promise that he would pay back $1700 within a year. He used 500 to add on to a trade-in for a downpayment, Then lent the other 1000 to a close friend for his downpayment. During the next year I pestered him about starting installments but he prefered to give it too me all at once. When the year was up he asked for an extension untill his taxes came back. But by the time his taxes came back he had moved to a new duty station in Colorado. I have the recipt for the withdrawl of $1500 and a small IOU he signed saying he borrowed 1500 and will pay 1700. I his friend who got the 1000 is the only witness. Do I have enough to take him to court and get my money back? Will I have to go to Colorado to take him to court? Is it better to wait untill I get out of the Army to go to court?

Asked on 9/18/11, 2:47 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Ms. Tran Lankford Tran Lankford, Attorney at Law
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I do not know how close you are now with this Sgt., to whom you had loaned the money, but have you considered writing to the Sgt. a certified letter to have a record for your files, explaining that if the Sgt. does not pay you in a lump sum amount or whatever amount you want per month by a certain date, that you will take legal action? This way, if the Sgt. pays, the Sgt. will not have a blemish on his record or ruin your relationship with him. If the Sgt., does not want to cooperate, you could go through his chain of command about the problem. I do not know if there are rules that you must go through your chain of command first for something like that, but you should be able to check with JAG about that. JAG maybe able to help you with this as well since it's Military-Military, even if it is a state claim.

You can sue the Sgt. for the money; the friend-witness and the receipt of withdrawal would help, but the most useful evidence would be the Contract the Sgt. had signed saying the Sgt. borrowed the money from you. If informal methods fail, you will need to sue the Sgt. If you hire an attorney, we probably would charge about the same amount of money that is owed to you so it may not be worth your while to hire one. You can try to sue the Sgt. in Small Claims Court yourself, but having an attorney represent you is more advantageous, of course. If the Sgt. is now in Colorado, you will have to sue him there unfortunately. That means you will need to go there for any Hearing or Trial as well. You do not have to wait until you get out of the Army; there are deadlines that may expire if you do not proceed expeditiously.

A good number of states like Georgia have a Military Attorney Referral Program with the State Bar of that state where we either do the legal work "pro bono" or for a very discounted price. Check with JAG at your installation and with the JAG at the installation where the Sgt. is stationed for a referral to one of those attorneys. I am on that list here in Georgia. If you sue, you will need to sue the Sgt. in Colorado so look for an attorney in Colorado.

Please feel free to contact me at 404-507-6795 or my Legal Assistant at 404-829-4117 or any attorney. This is general information given based on the limited information you have provided; if you have further questions, please contact us or another attorney.

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9/21/11, 3:20 pm

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