You have a right to sue someone for any breach of an enforceable promise or contract. A contract in Minnesota is defined as being a promise or set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty. Restatement, Second of Contracts § 1. A loan or promise need not be confirmed in writing in many situations. The normal situations requiring a written contract are defined by what is called the statute of frauds. The following types of contracts require a writing because of the heightened risk of fraud in these areas: 1) contracts for the sale of goods for the price of $500 or more; 2) contracts which cannot be performed within one year; 3) contracts for the transfer of an interest in land; and 4) contracts that obligate a party to be a surety (i.e., guarantor). Minn. Stat. § 336.2-205. There are other exceptions as well.
To recover on an enforceable agreement, you will generally initiate a claim for breach of contract, though other claims often apply. Recovery on a breach of contract claim requires three things in Minnesota: 1) formation of a contract; 2) a plaintiff's performance of any conditions precedent; and 3) a defendant's breach of the contract. See, e.g. Commercial Assocs., Inc. v. Work Connection, Inc., 721 N.W.2d 772, 782 (Minn. Ct. App. 2006). Before suing, however, you should consider whether any valid defenses to a breach of contract apply. There are many, but they often include: settlement; waiver; mistake of law or fact; duress; unconscionability; impossibility; anticipatory suspension of contract; and violation of the statute of frauds.
If the money or value of services or property lent was under $15,000.00, you may consider suing in conciliation court. See the Conciliation Court Section for more details. If the amount owed is in excess of $15,000.00 or you are not interested in conciliation court, you can sue for return of the money in district court. You must file a Summons and Complaint with the district court to initiate your claims. You typically file the initial documents in the district court that is located in the county where you live, the county where the debtor lives, or the county where the transaction took place. A Complaint is a legal document that sets forth all of the facts related to your dispute and any legal claims you have in suing the other party. The filing fee for a district court lawsuit is generally over $300.00 unless waived. You must also have the person personally served with a copy of the complaint and a summons, which orders them to file an answer to your complaint within the statutorily required amount of time, most often 20 days in Minnesota. Schedule an appointment with a member of our civil litigation group in order to determine options for how best to proceed.