Small claims court

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DammitJanet, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is probably going to be long and convoluted so bare with me or just close out and read something else if you arent interested in a crime drama

    I dont know if anyone remembers or simply wasnt here for it but back in 2/2006 my neighbor shot 2 of my dogs - a 4 month old bull mastiff puppy and an approximately 10 month old boxer mix puppy. Mastiff was named Maggie and boxer was named Bo.

    These dogs were on my property and the man shot them from his yard over his fence and killed the dogs at approximately 7:45 am when they went outside to potty and they were in my front yard. He was witnessed by Tony while Tony was peeing in our bathroom. We have a window over the toilet and he saw the guy plain as day. Both dogs immediately dropped. Maggie was paralyzed and Bo ran to the house. He later died.

    We took the dogs to the vet immediately where they called the humane society's investigator who took the report, they operated on Maggie to remove the bullet, when Bo died they did a necropsy at the investigator's request to get the bullet to match it to Maggie's bullet. Meanwhile, Maggie is still in the hospital paralyzed. Eventually they told me she would never be able to walk at all and said either I had to have her put to sleep or they knew of a place that took care of disabled dogs and I could let her go there. As much as I wanted to keep her, I knew I couldnt care for a disabled dog who would get to be over 100 pounds. I let them have her. One of the reasons we kept her at the vets here so long though was because the humane investigator kept assuring me that my neighbor would be held responsible for this bill. He would have to pay it. No way would I have ever okayed a necropsy or kept a dog alive long enough for such a large bill to accrue. I simply couldnt afford it.

    Well...we got subpeonad one time but the defendent didnt show. They told us he wasnt served properly and we would get served again to return. We waited. I called every so often and got told the warrant was still out there, they just hadnt served him yet, they couldnt find him, something...blah blah blah. I saw the investagator a time or two...nothing. Eventually I kind of lost count.

    I got served in July of this year with small claims papers from the vet. Ok...yeah...there is a bill. I cant find anything I used to have on this case. I go in today to the court. I tell the judge my story. He tells me that I had been given some wrong information when I told him that I had been told that it was too late to serve him the warrant if the warrant had been issued. And I knew the warrant had been issued since they had subpeonad us that one time. So he continued my case and told me to go down to the clerk of courts office and find out where the warrant was and to get that warrant served! So down I go...I find out that well I will be darned...that warrant had been served, the case had been dismissed! I was astounded! I asked the lady in the clerks office why it was dismissed, she said could see the record...well of course I wanted to see it! She went to find the record and it was no where to be found!!!!

    Now...let me tell this one little fact. The man who is my neighbor has the same last name as one of the sitting district court judges. And it isnt jones or smith or doe. And they have remarkably close first names. One is Craig and one is Greg. I am seriously now wondering if they arent brothers or cousins!

    Court cases that old...I mean it isnt seriously old but it isnt brand new either...dont just get lost in a courthouse without some reason. I smell a rat.

    Now...I called to see if I could sue the man civilly. Jamie was attempting to find the facts from the investigator ....ACO to ACO long distance. In VA, the statute of limitations for filing a small claims civil suit is 5 years. Here it is 3 years. So I am out of gas.

    Now I am wondering if the vet isnt out of gas too in filing against me because it has been over 4 years since this happened. I mean if I cant file against the neighbor, can they file against me? Its the same length of time. I havent made a payment.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hmmm... I wonder if the vet has a leg to stand on at this point too. He must be hurting for money if he let it go that long then sued. Anyway, I don't know what to tell you but I think I'd go to court if called again and just say what you've said here.
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have to be back on 9/29 and I will just ask and hope I am right and if not, they feel at least part of this should go to the county for messing me up.

    Jamie wants to come down here and run this place
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You can probably get a lawyer to talk to you for little or no money for about 25 minutes. Many give an initial free consultation. Find one and get their take on this. For the most part, bills that haven't been paid in 7 years are unable to be collected. This is in most areas we have lived in, but may be different in your area. It goes on your credit report but legally cannot be collected. We learned this when we first saw a credit counselor. We had four bills that were in dispute (one was because a neighbor stole cable by accessing it at a junction on a pole in front of our home. We didn't even have cable tv at the time.) and they were all within just a couple of months of the 7 year deadline. The counselor said that if we paid even $1 on them it would let them continue to collect on the accounts, which is why they were begging for even $5 or $10. Because they were truly for things we did not do/owe (the neighbor did a few other nasty things to us, including hijacking electricity from us when his went out - without letting us know about it and by running wires that were very very dangerous to anyone/anything near them!) we simply did not answer the calls from the creditors other than to threaten to tell the FTC about them and the accounts disappeared in a short period of time.

    As you were told that you would not be charged by the investigator and the vet, I would think you do not owe the bill. I am very sure the judge took care of things for his relative - it happens often in many areas. I would still try to find the investigator and let Jamie talk to him. Have Tony write out (or dictate to you and you type) an affadavit stating that he saw the neighbor shoot the dogs while the dogs were on your property not doing anything they were not supposed to do. After it is typed up take it and Tony and his ID to a notary and have it notarized. That may help it be accepted by the judge.

    Get whatever listing is in the computer at the clerk's office. Even if it is just a print of the screen that lists the case and that it was dismissed. If the lawyer will do it for cheap, have him ask the judge if he helped his relative on this case. not sure the best way to do it, but someone, somewhere knows what happened. Not sure it is worth finding it out, but that is something you have to decide. Get the clerk to write out a note saying the files have been lost or destroyed, along with the list of everyone who has looked at them (unless that is in the computer).

    Be SURE to tell the judge, and have in writing, that the shooter is related to this judge and it looks like all the documents disappeared somehow - which looks suspicious. Also tell the judge that you were told that you were NOT liable for the bill and are on disability (and were at that time) and had/have NO WAY to pay the bill. Tell him that the ONLY reason you allowed the treatment and necropsy was because the investigator told you that you would not be accountable for the bill. The investigator or his office should be accountable because all this was done on HIS say so.

    Can you even find the investigator now? maybe finding him to get the real story would help, even if he has to be subpoenad. If they try to stick you with the bill, find a reporter at the local paper who likes to expose this kind of thing.

    I remember when it happened very well, and how upset you were. I don't know how far back posts are saved, but maybe you could find some info in the archives about this? Or if one of the former owners has any backups on an old disc of some kind it might have those posts. You were traumatized and very afraid of this :censored2:****, and also very very angry at him. I do remember you posting about the necropsy and treatment and how you were told that the neighbor would have to pay for the bill, not you under any circumstances. If you need a letter about that, drop a PM to me.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont have proof that the neighbor and the judge are related...just a gut hunch. The name thing. At the time, it never even occurred to me because I didnt even know my neighbors last name! I just knew him as Craig...Valerie's husband. I dont get out much I think I assumed he was just one of the local common last names around here. Around here most folks are Locklears, Sampsons, Hunts, Oxendines, Cummings, Jones, Hammonds. Its a thing where the indians where given old english names when the they took in the survivors of Sir Walter Raleighs lost colony. Just a history
  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    The statute of limitations on debts varies from state to state. it also varies in how they calculate the age of the debt...

    For example, in SC the statute of limitations on debt is 3 years - BUT they can count three years from the day the debt was first created...OR they can start counting from the day the debt became seriously delinquent (up to six months from the day the debt was accrued)...Or they can count from the last day a payment of any kind was made. So, although the statute of limitations is three years, they could still legally collect for 3 1/2 years or more...
  7. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    If you signed any papers at the vet's, it might be that you signed a contract. In my state, the statute of limitations on contract is six years, you need to check NC's.

    As for the neighbor, you may be out of luck. You said that the statute is 3 years, but for an intentional tort (like deliberately shooting an animal) it might be shorter. My state is only one year for intentional, but 3 for the others.

    Good luck. I agree that you should contact the bar association for a referral and at least a free consultation.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    YUP - go talk to a lawyer. Also, many counties have the Clerk of Courts searchable online. For instance, one local one here (not MINE lol) is Usually you can put in the first two, the county, the state and US and it will work...