I am an enlisted member of the US Navy and I recently transferred from my shore duty to a temporary duty assignment under instruction where I am currently at. Before I left, I loaned five thousand dollars to a co-worker who is one pay-grade higher than me. We drew up a contract which clearly outlines a payment schedule of one thousand dollars at every payday which we both signed and a third party witnessing has signed as well. So far he made the first payment, missed the second, made the third and missed the fourth and fifth payment. How do I go about taking him to court in order to get my money? I was told that with a contract, I would not need a lawyer. I am in Virginia and he is in Mississippi.
He was the one to suggest the payment plan which he signed off on. I have talked to him numerous times about his missing the payments. He would assure me that he "will take care of it," but I will see no effect to a deposit to my account. Since I am now in Virginia, would he be recieving summons to appear in court here?
Two choices. First, he now owes you $3000, and you can sue him in small claims court in Mississippi for your $3,000. No lawyer is needed, and with a signed and witnessed contract you will have no problem winning. "Collecting", of course, is always a different story. Second, the military looks VERY unkindly on people borrowing money from those they outrank. Borrowing money from a junior, and then not paying it back is even worse. Many times a commander will consider that to be "conduct unbecoming", and could take disciplinary action against the offender. My advice - before going through a lawsuit - would be to speak to him and tell him that if he doesn't start paying you back right away, you will speak to his command, and ask his Iowa to speak to him about it. Needless to say, this would be VERY bad for him, career-wise, even if no formal charge was laid. Finally... "a co-worker who is one pay-grade higher than me"... Unless you're a Senior Chief and a Master Chief, $1,000 a paycheck would seem to me to likely be more than it was reasonable to expect him to be able to repay. (And even then it would really be pushing it) Is he just not paying you 'because', or can he just not afford to? All the lawsuits or command pressure in the world can't "squeeze blood out of a turnip" if he just doesn't have the money. Richard
The first question is, do members of the military have access to military courts concerning private, civil lawsuits between them? Are JAG lawyers used for this? If you must use civilian courts, you must sue him either in his current State of residence or the State where the contract was entered into (which, once again, raises the question, "if the contract was entered into on a Federal Armed Forces facility, should it be in a military or Federal Court?") You did not indicate the State in which the contract was entered into by you two. For Mississippi, I am assuming he is in either Lauderdale County (Meridian), Mississippi or in one of the Gulf Coast counties. The proper Court is the Circuit Court for the county of the Defendant's residence. Small claims court has a jurisdictional limit of $3500. County court may be an option. You, or an attorney you retain, will have to go to the courthouse and and file the lawsuit and pay the filing fee. You will have to be at the hearing. You should hire an attorney for several reasons: (1) to ensure that your written agreement contains all of the legally required elements for a binding contract, (2) to draft your lawsuit complaint in the proper form, and (3) to ensure that your lawsuit is served upon the Defendant in accordance with Mississippi law. If your claim was for under $3500 you could use the small claims court, Mississippi's Justice Court, and that would permit you to simply complete a form. You are over the jurisdictional limit, so you must go the "formal" lawsuit route, which requires the drafting of a complaint. I am generally familiar with the Mississippi court system because I was admitted to practice law there in the early 1980's but have not been there since the mid-80's. I have practiced law in Tennessee since the early 1990's. My knowledge as stated herein could be inaccurate and you should not exclusively rely upon it. You should contact an attorney in the Mississippi county in which your Defendant resides. Good luck.
Since you are both in the military this simplifies things. Contact the JAG office and tell them about your problem. If you have a witnessed contract then the military can simply deduct the money from his pay and give it to you. I don't know that they will but I know that they can. And they will inform him of this. When confronted with the possibility of a military intervention and possible court martial I bet he will hasten to repay the loan. But play nice and ask him first. Maybe he has a good reason. Give him an opportunity to explain. Don't negotiate with him or agree to reduced payments or a longer time frame. By negotiating or making another agreement, even a verbal one, you may invalidate the original contract. Just ask him why he hasn't payed you on time like he agreed.
Try amicably first...and last. because legal procedures last long...and you are in two different states..and you signed in a third state...unless you specified which state law applies to the outcome or non payment. again try to resolve amicably and buy yourself a lottery ticket to make up for the difference...it helps.
Try contacting his Iowa first to see if you can get him to pay up that way.
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