I bought a puppy from a neighbor, who didn't want to sign a bill of sale. The dog is now a year old and has lived with me for six months.
I paid vet bills, including the rabies vaccination. She sold the dog because she needed money to pay bills. The puppy always ran over to my house and did not want to go home. Can the neighbor take the dog back?
If money has changed hands and you have the dog, you've got a contract, implied or otherwise. Where you paid the vet bills, this is something the law calls detrimental reliance, and this cements the deal.
In other words, in reliance on the fact that there was a deal, you suffered a pecuniary loss by paying the vet bill to your own detriment. The dog is yours.
The only thing that might possibly change my answer would be if there are breeding papers on the dog and the neighbor retained what amounts to a title. However, she would be in trouble with the breeding association for doing business this way. Go to the local town hall, license the dog and call it a day. My answer: No, she can't retrieve Fido. Tell her to "leave it."
A credit card company that I'm not even sure I had an account with sued me. So, I sent them discovery documents — interrogatories and requests for production of documents — asking them to document my debt.
Three days after I sent this out, the collection attorneys sent me their discovery forms. So now, I won't get the information I need before the time deadline for me to send my answers to their requests. This isn't right because I honestly don't know if I had a credit card with this company. What can I do?
Any party in a civil lawsuit may send discovery requests, which include interrogatories, questions that must be answered under oath, and requests for documents. Collection attorneys are often aggressive so they would have sent theirs out anyhow.
The time to ask for proof of any debt is when the collection attorneys first contact you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides you the right to demand verification of the debt. Hopefully, this FDCPA verification is one of the documents you have asked for in your document requests, as well as original signed loan documents creating your obligation.
First, call the attorneys, explain your situation, and ask for an extension to answer your discovery documents until 30 days after they answer. Failing that, the civil rules allow you to state, if in good faith, that you have insufficient information upon which to answer. The rules also allow you to amend and supplement your responses later.
Finally, check your credit report. The debt may have been purchased by this company. Or, it may, in fact, be an error due either to identity theft or an honest mistake, which does happen.
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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.