Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)/Friend owes me money

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Question
A friend owes me a lot of money and he is not going to pay me back so I want to get it back through legal means. Currently I have a note from him as well as text messages, phone recordings and video recordings of him admitting to what he owes. Is it possible he could claim that I FORCED him to sign it? That I manipulated the sound recording some how or threatened him? I want to get him to sign other notes but I didn't know exactly what information and details that I need to jot down in order for it to be valid in court if I ever have to go there. I'm worried that my notes are incomplete and do not contain enough information to go through in court.

The money was lent to him for many different things, rent, food, clothing, other debts he needed to pay. For a while I was paying for all his food, equipment,  everything pretty much. It was done in small increments in different types of payments such as cash and credit. He really needed help, threatened suicide on many occasions and pretty much just freeloaded off of me as I attempted to help him get back on his feet.

I have witnesses that can testify that he owes me that amount of money as well as a written note by him and a text message and phone voice recording of his admitting that he owes me over 11K. I want to make sure that I get my money back 100% and am afraid that I need more evidence so I want a more detailed note than the one I have now.

Right now I currently have a video recording of him signing a note that states exactly this...

I, ____, born on ____ with social security number _______ currently owe ______  11,327 US dollars from accumulated costs that have been accrued since April 2012 and I am promising to pay this amount back by April 2013 in small or large increments with proof of reimbursement by receipts received by both party members. If I do not pay this amount back by April 2013, I approve of wage garnishment or other miscellaneous legal methods that may be enforced upon me by the state of law in order for ______ to have his funds returned appropriately.

Signed by borrower ________
Signed by lender ________
Witness Signature #1 __________
Witness Signature #2 ________
Witness Signature #3 _________

I have the actual note of his signature. I am afraid that he is going to claim forgery so I made sure to also have a video recording of him signing the note and reciting on recording the note verbatim.
I also have text messages as well as voice recordings from myself and other friends of him casually and informally engaging in conversation with them, acknowledging that he owes me these amounts.
For example, text messages and conversations such as....
Friend: So how much do you really owe _____?
Borrower: About 11K

Friend: You know you still owe ______ 11K, right? How are you going to pay him back?
Borrower: I know I do. I'm still trying to find a job.

Those are the two conversations and text messages that have been exchanged.
So in total, I have informal conversations through text and phone recordings of him admitting that he owes me oney. I also have a hard copy of a note that he signed(signature that matches that on his driver's license). Lastly I have a video recording of his actual self, on camera reciting the note and a voice recording of him signing it.

Is this enough to get him to give me money back? What else can I do to insure that I can legally get him to pay me back.

Please help me. I am so sick of thinking about this money. I barely make minimum wage and this money was earned by me through long hours of blood, sweat and tears. I just feel so distraught and upset being cheated and used by somebody who I really tried to help. I just want my money back so I can finally get this person out of my life and I can live my life. I made a huge mistake in trying to help somebody and I will never do it again, and I just want to move on.

Also, if I want to tack on interest, how can I go upon doing so?
I live in San Diego, California.

Answer
Hello Alex,

Before I respond further to your question, I must make clear that I do not represent you, and cannot give you individual particularized legal advice. No attorney client relationship is created by this email. For legal advice, you should hire your own attorney, and follow their advice. My role with AllExperts is limited to providing general information and suggestions for educational or general knowledge purposes. Before you take any action, consult with your own attorney.

Your question includes the topic of duress, which is occassionally successful as a defense to a contractual obligation.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duress.  In my experience, duress is a weak defense that doesn't accomplish anything unless the conduct was pretty extraordinary, like the proverbial gun to the head.

While your notes may be incomplete, I take the opinion that no evidence is ever perfect.  A judge/jury will determine what the facts are with their common sense, and it sounds to me like you have a lot to consider.  I suggest that you take your evidence to your attorney and preserve everything in a condition that won't become deleted or destroyed over time, and bring a suit against your debtor at once.  

I doubt you will be successful in a claim for interest unless that was agreed to in the note and/or some California law provides for interest in your circumstances.  Speak to your attorney about the proper way to draft your complaint.

I hope this helps, good luck to you.

Morgan Smith
SMITH & RAVER LLP
Minneapolis, Minnesota
http://smith-and-raver-llp.biz
Conciliation Court * Civil Litigation * Forfeitures * Construction * Family Law  

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Morgan Smith

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Civil litigation (contract claims, landlord-tenant actions, forfeiture suits, residential construction defect matters), Family law (divorce, custody modifications, child support modifications, and pre-nuptial agreement), new business start-ups, civil forfeiture, asset forfeiture. Please do not submit your question as Private. It is my policy not to answer Private questions from members of the public here on AllExperts; I reserve that function to my private clients. Although AllExperts permits me to change your questions from Private to Public, it is my policy not to do that. I encourage you to resubmit your question as a public question. Your public question has the potential to help others with similar concerns. I suggest that you use a pretend name and otherwise alter sensitive facts that make you inclined to treat your question as Private, and submit your question to me Publicly.

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I've been practicing law in the State of Minnesota since 1995. I've worked in skyscraper firms, and now my own small firm in Minneapolis. Past answers from my earlier participation on AllExperts is posted at: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Civil-Commercial-Litigation-911/indexExp_80217.htm

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AllExperts, Yahoo Answers, http://smith-and-raver-llp.biz/News.html

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J.D. William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, MN

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