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Lance Casey & Associates 2386 Fair Oaks Blvd Sacramento CA 95825 (800) 683-4769
Small Claims Form SC-100
WHAT IS SMALL CLAIMS COURT? Small claims court is a special court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. The rules are simple and informal. The person who sues is the plaintiff. The person who is sued is the defendant. In small claims court, you may ask a lawyer for advice before you go to court, but you cannot have a lawyer in court. Your claim cannot be for more than $5,000 if you are a business or public entity or for more than $10,000 if you are a natural person (including a sole proprietor). If you have a claim for more than this amount, you may sue in the civil division of the trial court or you may sue in the small claims court and give up your right to the amount over the limit. You cannot, however, file more than two cases in small claims court for more than $2,500 each during a calendar year. Small claims form sc-100.
You must be at least 18 years old to file a claim. If you are not yet 18, tell the clerk. You may ask the court to appoint a guardian ad litem. This is a person who will act for you in the case. The guardian ad litem is usually a parent, a relative, or an adult friend. You must also appear at the small claims hearing yourself unless you filed the claim for a corporation or other entity that is not a natural person. If a corporation files a claim, an employee, an officer, or a director must act on its behalf. If the claim is filed on behalf of an association or another entity that is not a natural person, a regularly employed person of the entity must act on its behalf. A person who appears on behalf of a corporation or another entity must not be employed or associated solely for the purpose of representing the corporation or other entity in the small claims court. A person who sues in small claims court must first make a demand, if possible. This means that you have asked the defendant to pay, and the defendant has refused. If your claim is for possession of property, you must ask the defendant to give you the property. Unless you fall within two technical exceptions, you must be the original owner of the claim. This means that if the claim is assigned, the buyer cannot sue in the small claims court.
HOW DOES THE DEFENDANT FIND OUT ABOUT THE CLAIM?
You must make sure the defendant finds out about your lawsuit. This has to be done according to the rules or your case may be dismissed or delayed. The correct way of telling the defendant about the lawsuit is called service of process. This means giving the defendant a copy of the claim. YOU CANNOT DO THIS YOURSELF. Here are four ways to serve the defendant:
Service by a law officer—You may ask the marshal or sheriff to serve the defendant. A fee will be charged. The sheriff only works Monday - Friday 8-5. We work 24/7 to serve your legal papers.
Process server—You may ask anyone who is not a party in your case and who is at least 18 years old to serve the defendant. The person is called a process server and must personally give a copy of your claim to the defendant. We will serve your papers for a fee. You may also ask a friend or relative to do it. The person must also sign a proof of service form showing the defendant was served.
Certified mail—You may ask the clerk of the court to serve the defendant by certified mail. The clerk will charge a fee. You should check back with the court before the hearing to see if the receipt for certified mail was returned to the court. Service by certified mail must be done by the clerk's office except in motor vehicle accident cases involving out-of-state defendants.
Substituted service—This method lets you serve another person instead of the defendant. You must follow the procedures carefully. You may also wish to use the marshal or sheriff or a registered process server. A copy of your claim must be left at the defendant's business with the person in charge; OR at the defendant's home with a competent person who is at least 18 years old. The person who receives the claim must be told about its contents. Another copy must be mailed, first class postage prepaid, to the defendant at the address where the paper was left. The service is not complete until 10 days after the copy is mailed. No matter which method of service you choose, the defendant must be served by a certain date or the trial will be postponed. If the defendant lives in the county, service must be completed at least 15 days before the trial date. This period is at least 20 days if the defendant lives outside the county. The person who serves the defendant must sign a court paper showing when the defendant was served. This paper is called a Proof of Service (form SC-104). It must be signed and returned to the court clerk as soon as the defendant has been served.