Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in New York

I loaned a friend $8,000 that was documented and recorded. There was both an oral and written contract (non-notarized). The loan was supposed to be repaid within 3 months. It has now been 3 years and I've made every attempt to work with the person and come up with a feasible payment plan. It has become clear that I will not be getting my money back and I am ready to seek a judgment against this friend. However, I am not sure how to proceed because of the amount (I think $8,000 is above small claims limits) and the venue. At the time of the loan, I mailed the person a check from Nassau County, New York to New York City. Since receiving the loan, the person has moved to New Jersey and then most recently to Connecticut. In what type of court & in what jurisdiction would I try to obtain a judgment against the person in? What would be the initial steps?

Note: The person has somewhat threatened me that he will declare bankruptcy if I declare this matter in court. I'm not looking for a major legal battle or to rack up major legal fees, but I would not mind forcing the person to declare bankruptcy if I'm not going to get my money any ways.

Thank you in advance for any help or advice you can provide.

Asked on 3/04/10, 12:52 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Mark S. Moroknek Kelly & Curtis, PLLC.
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You really should sue him in the jurisdiction where he resides, as it is easier to obtain jurisdiction if the defendant is resides in the jurisdiction, and it is easier to begin collection proceedings, it is actually required by some courts of lesser jurisdiction.

Small claims is generally 5,000.00, but the District Courts (Nassau County) for example have jurisdiction over claims up to $15,000. NYC Civil Court to $75,000.00 (Small claims is within those courts.)

You may have a "long arm" jurisdiction issue, (constitutionally outside of the court's reach) if the defendant resides in a different State; but if he defaults, as a practical matter he wont answer, and you obtain a judgment and seek to enforce it. I doubt that anyone can declare bankruptcy over an $8,000 debt these days.

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3/09/10, 3:37 pm

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