Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in California

I live in California and loaned an associate 20K for his business in Texas. The person I loaned the money to lives in Texas as well. I believe I was scammed by him and have found out his "business" is not owned by him. Now he is backing out of paying his debt. I also believe he is scamming others. What area of lawyer should I be contacting and should it be in Texas or California to try and collect on this debt. I do not have a formal contract, but I have records, correspondence and receipts that indicate this was a loan.

Asked on 3/22/16, 5:22 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

Any general litigator could handle your case, but unfortunately it would be very hard to litigate a collection of this debt cost effectively due to it's small amount. In California you could retain a lawyer who assists pro se litigants under a "limited scope" representation. I sometimes do that in an appropriate case and other lawyers do as well. That way you do most of the work, but have a qualified attorney coaching you and watching out for mistakes. They may also agree to make limited court appearances if appropriate. I am not sure, however, if limited scope representations are allowed under Texas laws governing the practice of law there.

Which brings us to your other question: TX or CA. The answer to that depends on whether a credible case can be made that your loan agreement was entered into in CA. The basic rule is you must sue a defendant where they are, but there are exceptions to that rule, one of them being if the contract was entered into in another state, or was to be performed in another state, in which case either state would have jurisdiction. You would need to go over the facts and documentation of the transaction with a CA lawyer to get an opinion on whether you could have the case heard here.

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Answered on 3/22/16, 6:46 pm

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