Madison, WI asked in Civil Litigation for Wisconsin

Q: Personal property is being withheld from me in the value of 20-50,000. by a woman I trusted with it for safekeeping

I sent a box of memorabilia that is part of my memoir about my 20-year relationship with Dr Hunter S Thompson. It is filled with unseen artifacts and photos, letters, notes, and faxes. We were discussing a possible documentary, but as the relationship progressed, I decided against it. She will not return my precious belongings and is holding me hostage. She is blackmailing me to do this documentary, which, of course, I'd never consider under these circumstances. NOw she is claiming she doesn't know about a box or doesn't have it. What do I do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: In your situation, where personal property of significant value and sentimental importance is being withheld, the first step is to gather all documentation and evidence that supports your ownership and the agreement for safekeeping. This can include any correspondence, such as emails or texts, that shows the arrangement made with the individual currently holding your items.

Next, consider sending a formal demand letter. This letter should detail the situation, assert your ownership of the property, and request its immediate return. It's often helpful to set a clear deadline for the return of the property in the letter. If you're not comfortable drafting this yourself, you may want to consult with a lawyer who has experience in property disputes.

If the demand letter does not resolve the issue, your next option could be to file a lawsuit for the return of your property. This is known as a replevin action, which is a legal process to recover goods unlawfully held by someone else. The court can order the return of your property if it finds in your favor.

Throughout this process, maintain a record of all interactions and attempts to resolve the issue. This documentation can be valuable in legal proceedings. Additionally, consider the potential impact on any future projects or relationships, and weigh these factors carefully in your decision-making process.

Remember, legal disputes can be complex and time-consuming. It's important to evaluate the emotional and financial costs involved in pursuing legal action. Seeking advice from a lawyer experienced in property law can provide you with tailored guidance and help you understand the legal options available to you.

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