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Small Claims Suits, Term Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1207

Term Paper

How to File in Santa Clara County, California

If one seeks to file a small claims suit in Santa Clara County, California, there is some pertinent information with which he or she should become familiar. Familiarizing oneself with this information will ensure that the correct steps are taken to achieve the desired result of either settling the claim prior to a court hearing or receiving a judgement order at the hearing that provides the plaintiff with remedy. Information outlining which steps are proper in a small claims suit and which forms are appropriate for filing is available at the Santa Clara County website. In particular, the form needed to file a small claims suit against another person may be located at the following address: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/sc100.pdf.

The legal requirement for an individual or individual who owns a business as a sole proprietor filing a claim is that the amount filed for is less than $10,000.00. The legal requirement for a corporation, partnership, or any other entity (excluding sole proprietorship) is that the maximum amount for a claim is $5000.00. You do not have to be a United States citizen to file a claim as plaintiff or defend yourself against a claim as defendant in small claims court. If the plaintiff is a minor, however, a parent or guardian must sign the Plaintiff’s Claim, and if the plaintiff is over the age of 14, he or she should sign the Plaintiff’s Claim as well.

The proper venue in which a claim should be filed is in the county or judicial district where the defendant lives in order to ensure that jurisdiction exists and is appropriate. There are several exceptions to this general guideline. For instance, if the small claim results from a car accident, the plaintiff may file in the county or judicial district where the accident took place even if this county or district is not where the defendant resides. Next, if a plaintiff is suing in relation to a contract, the suit may either be brought in the county or judicial district in which the contract was made, the plaintiff was to be paid, or the defendant was to perform the contract.

One will file his or her claim with the Clerk of the proper county or judicial district once he or she determines which county or judicial district is proper given his or her particular small claim. If the claim is not settled out of court prior to the hearing, the claim will be heard at the Downtown Superior Court located at 191 North First Street, San Jose, CA 95113 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Small claims suits may include car accidents, contracts, consumer purchases, and state agency disputes.

There is no age limit for filing a small claim suit specified on the Santa Clara County website. The only instruction involving age is that if the plaintiff is a minor, he or she will need to have his or her Plaintiff’s Claim signed by his or her parent or guardian. Additionally, in regard to age, if the plaintiff is over the age of 14, he or she should sign the Plaintiff Claim as well as the parent or guardian.

In Small Claims court, one is able to sue for the recovery of an amount up to $10,000. To caveat this, one is only able to bring forth a small claims case against another twice in a calendar year for claims in excess of $2500.00. One is able to bring forth any number of claims for amounts of less than $2500.00; however, if the amount for which plaintiff is suing defendant is in excess of $2500.00, such suits may only be brought twice within one calendar year.

If one has circumstances such as those outlined above and a small claims suit is the proper avenue to seek remedy, the plaintiff must file the “Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Defendant” form along with “Proof of Service” to validate that process has indeed been served upon the defendant to notify him or her of pending legal action. This proof of service must be filed two days in advance of hearing in order to be placed on the calendar for a hearing.

Additionally, if the plaintiff is a business (such as maybe in the case of a contract dispute or small claim case involving consumer purchases) with a fictitious name, the plaintiff is still able to sue as an individual but must attach a separate form (SC – 103) called a Fictitious Name Declaration.

In regard to initial filing fees, there are three different categories under which one may fall in regard to small claims court. The first category is applicable if the plaintiff is filing a claim for $1500.00 or less; this first category requires a filing fee of $30.00. The second category is for a plaintiff who files a claim for an amount in excess of $1500.00 but not more than $5000.00; the filing fee for such claim is $50.00. The third category is for those claims that fall between the values of $5001.00 and $10,000.00; this category requires a filing fee of $75.00.

An additional caveat exists to the pricing mechanism of filing fees for small claims court: If a plaintiff has filed more than twelve claims in California within the past twelve months, he or she must pay a $100.00 filing fee for their claim. An additional factor in the computation of filing fees is if the plaintiff has process of service through the court system. If so, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee of $15 per each defendant upon whom there will be service by the clerk.

An attorney cannot enter appearance on a plaintiff or defendant’s behalf or otherwise be present for his or her representation in a small claims lawsuit. Santa Clara County does not permit this; most likely because small claims court is intended to be a forum in which citizens are able to resolve disputes efficiently and informally through person-to-person correspondence and mediation.

From this assignment, I learned that the process of small claims court is one that is ideally accessible to the everyday Californian. While it may raise concerns for those unfamiliar with the law that attorneys are not permitted to represent them in small claims court, it also is a perk to some, as it ensures that no party will be particularly advantaged over another party who may not have the time or resources to afford counsel.

Another thing that I learned which interests me is that there is a mechanism in place within the filing fee schedule that basically penalizes those who file high amounts of small claims in the county. For instance, if one files more than twelve small claims suits in a twelve-month period, he or she must pay $100 to file that claim versus perhaps only $50 for someone who hasn’t filed as many small claims cases in that same twelve-month period.

Works Cited

“Small Claims Division.” The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara. n.d. Web. July 15, 2015. http://www.scscourt.org/court_divisions/small_claims/small_claims_home.shtml.

“Judicial Branch Home.” The Judicial Branch of California Courts. n.d. Web. July 14, 2015. http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm?filter=SC.

“Forms & Filing-Local Forms.” The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara. n.d. Web. http://www.scscourt.org/forms_filing.shtml.

“Statewide Civil Fee Schedule.” Superior Court of California. n.d. Web. July 14, 2015. http://www.scscourt.org/documents/fee_schedules/FeeSchedule.pdf.

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