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[In a previous version of the story, 9NEWS misidentified the owner of the consignment store. 9NEWS regrets the error.]

LITTLETON - Customers of Room Design on a Dime furniture consignment say they plan to fight back after the store abruptly closed without returning their furniture or paying them money owed, 9Wants to Know has discovered.

"I'm pissed," consigner Tim Hoster said. "Disappearing and taking your goods is not part of the game."

Hoster and several other consigners who contacted 9Wants to Know say storeowner Julia Gibson offered to sell their furniture on consignment. Gibson got to keep 50 percent of the sale and 50 percent was supposed to go to the furniture owner.

Hoster says he's out $1,500.

Katelyn Kent thinks she's out several thousand dollars.

"The reason I was selling these items is because I needed the money," Kent said.

Kent and Hoster say they were shocked to see an empty building when they went to pick up their consignment checks late last year.

9Wants to Know investigative reporter Jace Larson discovered Gibson's store held a public liquidation sale in October but kept it private from consigners.

Police told Hoster that the issue was a civil matter and not a case they would investigate.

TRACKING DOWN THE OWNER

9NEWS went looking for Gibson. Just like her business, Gibson had seemingly vanished.

At her apartment, her adult son said Gibson had skipped out without telling him too.

Gibson has refused to return phone messages left by 9NEWS.

FIGHTING BACK

Hoster and Kent have decided to file small claims court lawsuits against Gibson.

"Filing a lawsuit is very easy," former Judge Diane Vaksdal Smith said.

She presided over small claims night court for six years in the 17th Judicial District, which covers Adams and Broomfield counties.

"If you watch Judge Judy or Mayor Ed (People's Court) to get ready, please forget everything you saw," she said. "The harder you make it for the judge, the less your opportunity for success."

Read: How to file a small claims case

She says people must decide if filing a small claims case is worth it.

"Can you stand up in front a group of people and argue your case? Some people are just too nervous," she said. "Ask yourself, what happens if you lose."

Sometime the person who files the lawsuit ends up having to pay money, she said.

You must file the case in person at the court clerk's office in the county where the law was broken. Filing fees are:

• $28 for amounts up to $500 or
• $45 for amounts greater than $500 and up to $7500.

Lawsuits involving more than $7,500 cannot be filed in small claims court and must be filed in county court.

Trial dates are normally set for several weeks after the filing date.

Vaksdal Smith advises people to:

• be organized,
• write a timeline,
• practice in the mirror and
• stick to the facts.

Before the trial starts, most judges will ask both parties to try again and settle the case. Many courts offer free mediation services.

If you don't reach a solution, expect to go immediately to trial.

Both parties tell their sides of the story and call witnesses.

Judges usually rule on the case immediately after the trial.

Room Design on a Dime's former customers haven't taken their case to court yet.

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson? Call him at 303-871-1432 or e-mail him
jace.larson@9news.com

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