Hagerstown, MD asked in Small Claims for Maryland

Q: Can I go to small claims court?

I had planned to go on a beach trip with my ex friend and her family in December. I gave my portion of the payment of $616 to my ex friend on May 4th. She told me at anytime I changed my mind, I could get my money back. I notified her October 13th I would not be able to go as some other things came up and asked for a refund. There were no signed agreements and I have the proof of payment I sent to her that says for Winter vacation. I have even texted her to make it clear I would like the money back by December 15th and she responded by text that she will repay me so I have it in writing. If she does not return my money, can I take her to small claims court to recoup it? If she does not repay me by December 15th, how do I go about filing in small claims court? Can I ask her to pay court fees if I have to file and can I ask the courts to issue a bank garnishment or employer garnishment? I hope I don't have to take things further but I need to know what my legal options are at this point?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Her emailed response that she would refund you the money will help corroborate your claimed terms of the agreement that the money you paid was refundable at any time, but the "at any time" term is probably not one actually confirmed in the email--just that she would refund you the money. I mention this because, depending on how close to the vacation date that you canceled on her, she could claim that they were placed in a position where they could not get someone else to take your place and pay in your stead (assuming they made the vacation plans in part on reliance of having someone else help pay the costs), or if they incurred extra tickets, room expense, etc., to cover your going, and now it is too late to cancel those extra costs. The best scenario for you is that the vacation costs did not depend on your going or not, such that they already incurred or planned to incur the same costs regardless of whether you went. Assuming you sue and obtain a judgment, the court can and will award your court costs, which consist of the filing fee and service of process fees (typically capped at the fee the Sheriff would ordinarily charge, even if you used a more expensive private process server). You can also request pre-judgement interest, which is 6% simple (non-compounded) interest per year (you will need to calculate that for the court for the portion of the year involved). Once you have a judgment, then you can request issuance of a writ of garnishment on her wages, by serving her employer; or a writ of garnishment on her bank account(s), if you know what bank she banks at. A judgment earns interest at 10% per year.

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