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7/28/2012 8:56:22 PM

Collecting on your Judgment:

The Judgment Debtor Exam, A quick Review

What is a Judgment Debtor Exam?

This is an in-person examination under oath of a judgment debtor (or third party). The examination is similar to a deposition except held in the court where the judgment was entered. A judgment debtor exam is used to identify property in the possession or control of the judgment debtor (or third person), and to force the debtor or third person to turn over property to the levying officer. This procedure may be utilized every 120 days.

Benefits and advantages

Although a debtor examination is sometimes harder to effect service (it does require personal service on the individual judgment debtor or named Officer of a Corp., LLC, LLP, etc) it offers many advantages. A judgment debtor examination is particularly useful when the judgment creditor cannot locate the assets of a business or an individual debtor. Moreover, the mere service of an examination order on the judgment debtor creates a one-year lien on all of the debtor's nonexempt personal property, and oftentimes motivates the debtor to engage in good faith settlement discussions. Finally, If the Judgment Debtor was served personally and does not appear at the hearing, you can ask the Sheriff to issue a Bench Warrant against the judgment debtor.

What to ask the Judgment Debtor?

I have linked below a sample of questions to ask the Judgment Debtor. Remember, you will be asking the questions directly to the judgment debtor. Some of our clients have reported feeling awkward, overwhelmed or intimidated. This person or company owes you money and is legally "ordered" to answer your questions. I always remind them to be professional and assertive.

Click here for sample questions to ask Judgment Debtor package
7/6/2012 4:29:18 PM

Layoffs put small claims court in jeopardy
Loss of 13 clerks will leave court unstaffed
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Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
Record Staff Writer
July 06, 2012 12:00 AM

STOCKTON - San Joaquin County's small-claims court is in danger of shutting down - the latest casualty of budget cutbacks.

Thirteen Superior Court clerks have been sent layoff notices, and Presiding Judge Dave Warner said the court simply won't have enough employees to staff small-claims court after Aug. 1.

Small-claims court is designed for citizens to resolve disputes cheaply and quickly. It is the court where individuals can file civil lawsuits against someone - up to a maximum of $5,000 - without attorney representation.
What happens in small-claims court

Small-claims court hearings are informal. There is no jury. Parties represent themselves without lawyers. Some examples of the kinds of legal cases:

• Landlord disputes.

• Unresolved car accident issues.

• Appliance repair conflicts.

• Property damage disagreements.

• Personal loan arguments.

SOURCE: California Department of Consumer Affairs

Elimination of the program means that while individuals will be able to submit a small claim, the case will not be heard by a judge until the court can be funded again.

The layoff notices were sent in anticipation of an estimated $4.4 million deficit.

"What we're doing right now doesn't solve the problem, it simply lessens it," Warner said, indicating that additional courthouse budget reductions may come for the 2012-13 fiscal year that started Sunday.

Each of California's 58 counties have court systems that are funded by the state.

"It's not going to affect anything already set for hearing. But anything new will probably be pushed way back, or taken but not given a date for the time being."

In 2010-11, there were 3,213 small claims filed in San Joaquin County.

Small claims, Warner said, can be filed only in the county where the incident occurred. "That's a problem for the court system," Warner said. "It's either done here or it's not done."

That will be one of the arguments Warner expects to raise when he approaches the California Judicial Council to ask for emergency funding.

If approved, funding wouldn't be available for several more months - beyond the Aug. 1 layoff date.

Court administrators have notified the 13 clerks that they will lose their jobs effective Aug. 1.

Warner said administrators and managers, who are not represented by unions, have agreed to take one furlough day per month effective immediately as part of the court's cost-cutting move.

Steve Stallone, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, called the layoff notices a troubling move. He said San Joaquin County has been underfunded historically and had 25 people laid off last year.

Stockton's high foreclosure rates and increase in violent crimes add to the challenges. "Backlogs are just going to keep happening," Stallone said.

Stallone said he also is troubled that layoffs consist of lower-paid clerks, and not managers.

"They're having managers fill in and do the clerk's work at two or three times the pay," Stallone said. "So it exacerbates the problem."

Warner said there is no way of knowing whether the judicial council would award the Superior Court enough funding to revive the small-claims court and rehire the employees.

"We're trying to evaluate exactly where this is going to leave us," said Warner, adding that he was hopeful more would be known in the next few weeks.

The state judicial system as a whole was hit with a $652 million reduction. Even though the state has yet to finalize county budgets for 2012-13, San Joaquin County court administrators are making decisions based on their own projections.

"The longer we wait, the bigger the impact," Warner said. "We're trying to take an early response to spread out the impact."
5/21/2012 5:03:39 PM

The California Self Storage Association (CSSA) will be working with the Education Division of the Judicial Council of California’s Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to better inform court officials about the expanded authority in self-storage lien matters provided to the state's small-claims courts. The newly granted powers are the result of amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 21710. The education effort will include but not be limited to training programs and educational materials for small-claims judicial officers and temporary judges.

CSSA officials contacted the Judicial Council of California on April 2 after receiving reports that many small-claims judges and commissioners in California were unaware of their expanded authority to hear self-storage lien suits. Enacted in 2010 as part of the revised Assembly Bill 655, the amendments clarify that California small-claims courts have jurisdiction over and the authority to grant judgments on contested self-storage liens.

In a letter to the CSSA dated May 4, Anne M. Ronan, an attorney with the AOC, agrees that effective Jan. 1, 2011, parties may file in small-claims court to enforce liens under the Self-Service Storage Facilities Act. Ronan states that she will work with the AOC’s Education Division to make sure small-claims courts’ judicial officers are better educated about the changes.

“When we heard from our members that they were being turned away when taking their Declaration in Opposition to Lien Sale cases to small-claims court, we knew that we had to take action,” said Erin King, CSSA executive director. King added some of the courts had not yet received the communication on the legislation. “We will be loading a copy of the response letter (from Ronan) into our online store so that our members can print it and take it with them to court. We recommend this letter be a part of any legal documents being taken to small-claims court.”

Founded in 2002, the CSSA is dedicated to serving the California self-storage owners, operators, facility managers and vendors. The association represents more than 450 direct member companies that own and operate more than 1,200 facilities. Direct members range from individual facility owner-operators to multiple-facility operations to publicly traded real estate investment trusts.

In 2011, CSSA was the winner of the Inside Self-Storage "Best of Business" award for the self-storage association category.
4/20/2012 4:38:42 PM

April 18th, 2012 by Bill Raftery Leave a reply »

In many states, efforts to increase small claims limits take years of introduction and re-introduction before actual passage. Arizona’s effort (SB 1310) took only one year to be adopted, but has now run smack into a gubernatorial veto.

SB 1310 would have increased the small claims of justice of the peace courts from $2,500 to $10,000. It was amended down to $5,000 on the Senate floor. The bill’s author noted in committee the history of the proposal: a constituent had sued in small claims court and when the defendant company appeared it did so both with an attorney and a counter-claim large enough to force it into the regular justice of the peace court, requiring that the constituent hire an attorney.

Governor Jan Brewer issued her veto on April 4. In her veto letter, Governor Brewer noted the case, but also noted “Arizona Revised Statute 22-504 allows either party to object to a small claims proceeding and transfer the case to justice court to preserve the right to appeal and there is no monetary threshold a party must meet to transfer the case. This legislation does not solve the stated concern and is contrary to the purpose of the small claims division.”

The bill is now back in the Senate, but it is unclear if there are the votes for an override. The Senate passed the bill 20-10, just barely the 2/3rds (20 out of 30 senators) needed to override. The House passed it 34-22 (4 not voting), less than the 40 (out of 60) needed for an override there.
4/20/2012 4:14:12 PM

Most of our clients are Plaintiff's in California, Nevada Washington, Texas and Oregon Small Claims Cases. Most states' do not allow the Plaintiff to Appeal a Small Claims case. However, this is a great article about Honda Appealing a Small Claims case in Torrance, CA. Check it out.

TORRANCE, Calif. – Lawyers for American Honda Motor Co. returned to court Thursday to try to overturn a highly publicized small claims court award to a woman who sued over the fuel economy of her hybrid Honda Civic.

Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray II was hearing witnesses from both sides as Honda sought to reverse a court commissioner's award of $9,867 to Heather Peters, who opted out of a class-action settlement designed to give some 200,000 owners between $100 and $200 each, plus a rebate if they buy a new Honda.

Peters said she might never have brought the case if it wasn't for the puny amount offered in the class-action suit.

"$200 and a coupon? That was worth fighting," she said.

Her success in small claims court has led some 1,700 other hybrid owners to follow her example.

Honda called as a key witness Karen Takahashi, service manager at Honda Hollywood, where Peters bought her car.

Read: Survey says most hybrid owners don't buy another

Takahashi testified she took a Honda hybrid out for a 115-mile test drive on freeways and streets and was able to achieve 53 to 55 mpg. She said she is a conservative driver and did not try to manipulate the car to achieve better mileage.

On cross-examination, Peters, who is a lawyer, showed photos of the dashboard of the car that was tested and pointed out that its battery was fully charged. Peters has said her battery failed early on, received a software update and never again was fully charged, leaving the car to run almost entirely on gasoline.

Peters called a former Honda analyst and technical writer, Jeffrey Holliday of Baltimore, who said he was tasked with testing Honda hybrids after repeated customer complaints about mileage. He testified he was never able to duplicate the promised 50 mpg listed in the brochure for the car.

"I'm an aggressive driver so I made an attempt to drive conservatively. It's a great car but I was not able to duplicate it," he said.

Peters' husband, Michael Cassadine, testified the car had performed well when he first met Peters in 2008, but it quickly deteriorated and a software update made it worse. He said that when they left the house Thursday the dashboard showed the car was getting 25 mpg.

Later in the day, Peters testified and presented figures she said showed Honda knew it had problems with the hybrid cars but continued to advertise them as a perfect solution to gas price problems and a way to help the environment.

She told a Honda lawyer that the situation with her car is getting worse and she now has trouble accelerating up hills.

The lawyer, Roy Brisbois, accused Peters of causing the problems by the way she drove the car. He said she previously had sportier cars and that when she bought her car to the dealer it had extreme wear on the outside of the tires.

Peters said she had been driving very conservatively.

Outside court, Peters said she had never expected to spend this much time on her small-claims action when she first went to court, but she said she's glad the entire issue is being aired.

"My purpose is to hold Honda accountable for false advertising and to raise awareness."

She said she did not expect that Honda would fight her so vigorously.

"This raises brand awareness with the public that instead of trying to make things right, they will fight consumers to the death," she said.

Brisbois declined to comment outside court, saying he would not say anything until after a decision is rendered.

The judge is expected to take the matter under submission Friday and issue a ruling later.

Peters' small-claims suit was a unique end run around the class-action process that she said offered too little to Honda owners and too much to lawyers. She urged Honda owners to take the small-claims route as she did.

Honda's appeal of the small-claims verdict is essentially a retrial. According to small-claims rules, it is the last chance for review of the case and cannot be appealed further.

Unlike the small-claims trial, Honda has legal representation, and Peters, who renewed her law license, is presenting new evidence she has discovered since she received her award. She testified in the first part of the hearing last Friday with lawyers for Honda questioning her.

A judge has valued the class-action settlement at $170 million. Attorneys for the plaintiffs have pegged the value between $87.5 million and $461.3 million, depending largely on how many people accept rebates of up to $1,500.

The judge approved more than $8 million in plaintiff attorneys' fees in his 43-page ruling.

Read more:
4/16/2012 9:01:15 PM

In Small Claims Court, Consumers Win Against Huge Companies

AP | By PETER SVENSSON Posted: 03/02/12 04:33 PM ET | Updated: 03/04/12 10:38 AM ET
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NEW YORK (AP) — If you feel cheated by a big company and complaining gets you nowhere, what can you do? A handful of recent cases suggest that consumers can, if they're motivated enough, win against big companies in small claims courts.

These "David versus Goliath" battles were won against the likes of AT&T, Honda and others, without resorting to lawyers. The plaintiffs paid minor filing fees, gathered their own research and presented arguments in quick hearings that resemble the average "Judge Judy" episode.

And now, thanks to the Internet, these victors are connecting with other consumers in hopes of helping them replicate their successes. If the practice catches on, it could amount to a big bucks difference in payouts by these giant corporations.

"It is a significant undertaking," says Heather Peters of Los Angeles, who sued Honda because her Civic Hybrid didn't meet its claims for gas mileage. She won $9,867 last month.

"But with the Internet, it's a whole different world," said Peters, a former lawyer who just reactivated her license. "It just takes one or two people like us who are the anal-retentive, compulsive people to do all the work, and are magnanimous enough to say: 'Here you are! Go get 'em. You do it, too!'"

Other success stories include Matt Spaccarelli of Simi Valley, Calif., and Henry Brown of New York, who both sued AT&T Inc.

Brown won $1,587.50 in October after suing the telecommunications giant for frequently dropping his wireless calls and charging him an early termination fee when he wanted to get out of his contract.

Spaccarelli was awarded $850 last week after successfully suing AT&T for slowing down the data service on his iPhone when he hit a limit for downloads, even though he had an "unlimited data" plan.

Peters and Spaccarelli have both put up websites that feature copies of the documents they used in court.

Peters says hundreds of people have expressed interest, and she knows of at least six consumers who have filed cases. Dozens of people have contacted Spaccarelli, and he recently filed suit on behalf of his brother, who has the same problem with his iPhone.

Their victories aren't necessarily final. Honda says it will appeal Peters' award, and AT&T is appealing Spaccarelli's. But the new hearings will basically be reruns of the first ones. They will feature similar and relatively informal rules. So there's no way the companies can use their resources to take a small claims case to a jury trial and force the consumer to rack up enormous legal fees.

The small claims process is by no means easy. For Brown and Spaccarelli, the hearings were harrowing. They felt intimidated by AT&T's representatives. AT&T's lawyer postponed Brown's hearing three times before agreeing to a hearing date, months after the suit was filed.

"He was just so vicious, and it actually scared me. I actually said to the judge, 'I don't feel safe sitting next to him. He's just on the full attack,'" Brown says. The judge was sympathetic but told Brown that lawyers don't have to act nice: "This isn't a tea party," he was told.

Peters started her case because she was dissatisfied with a class-action settlement in the works over the same issue — the Honda Civic Hybrid's gas mileage. That settlement would give Civic owners $100 to $200 each, plus a rebate on a new Honda. Peters made out much better.

Should companies be scared of consumers heading to small claims courts? A quick calculation shows they should have cause for concern.

Honda's proposed class action settlement might cost the carmaker $40 million, if every one of the 200,000 Civic Hybrid owners claimed the maximum amount. But if all of the owners went to small claims court and fared as well as Peters, the company would be out nearly $2 billion.

"If corporations see a large number of people going to small claims, it might cut off their ability to have these relatively cheap dispositions of class actions," says Richard Cupp, a law professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

But while corporations have been fighting class actions, they don't seem very concerned about self-help justice through small claims. Paying off a few brave souls who head to small claims or arbitration is, after all, cheaper than settling class action suits.

"How many people would really do this?" Spaccarelli asks. "I'm just kind of pig-headed."

Companies are actually encouraging consumers to take their gripes to small claims courts. A clause in AT&T's contract, for instance, forbids customers from pursuing a jury trial or a class action. It points them instead to small claims court or arbitration. AT&T scored a victory on behalf of many companies when the Supreme Court upheld the clause last year.

"We strongly believe that small claims and arbitrations are viable options for concerned customers," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel says. "With over 100 million customers, we expect to receive complaints from time to time, and we know that, in a few of those cases, a small claims judge or an arbitrator might make a decision that we think is wrong. That's OK."

There is scant data on the number of small claims cases filed in the U.S. each year or on the number of cases that feature consumers suing big companies. A study by the National Center for State Courts, published in 1992, found 40 percent of cases in the 12 courts studied were consumer complaints. The same study found that 67 percent of individuals suing businesses or government agencies won their cases.

The Internet makes it easier for consumers to band together and take their cases to small claims court, but that doesn't apply to arbitration cases, because they usually require parties to keep the outcome confidential. If companies direct more cases to arbitration, sharing of tips and documents among consumer plaintiffs would be stifled.

Consumer advocates have been critical of arbitration for another reason: The arbiters are effectively paid by the companies who funnel claims there. Mandatory arbitration clauses by credit card companies have been hotly contested by regulators, consumer groups and in court.

The Davids who take down Goliaths in small claims courts say it isn't about the money but the justice — the satisfaction of getting even.

"What was worth the time was sticking it to AT&T. That was the end-all," Brown says. "Especially when, at the end, the lawyer came up to me and said, 'Congratulations, you made a great case.' I looked at him in disgust and walked away."
4/16/2012 5:05:12 PM

Many of our Nevada clients wanted to know more about the Las Vegas Justice Center's mandatory Mediation program. Below I have posted a section of the court's website explaining the program. By the way, the Mediation program does allow Attorney's to be present at the hearing. We've been advising our clients that it's much more important to have your Attorney (this is voluntary) at the Small Claims hearing than at the Mediation hearing.

Mandatory Mediation for Small Claims Cases Required
After September 1, 2011

Mandatory mediation is being implemented on a pilot basis in the Las Vegas Justice Court, pending the Nevada Supreme Court’s formal approval of a proposed local rule.

For every Small Claims Complaint filed in the Las Vegas Justice Court on or after September 1, 2011, the defendant will be required to file a written Answer in response to the Complaint. Once the Answer has been filed, the Justice Court Clerk’s Office will schedule the case for mandatory mediation.

Certain cases are automatically exempt from the mandatory mediation requirement, including cases arising under NRS Chapter 97A (“Debt Evidenced by Credit Card”) and NRS Chapter 604A (“Deferred Deposit Loans, High-Interest Loans, Title Loans, and Check-Cashing Services”). Cases filed by inmates against the Nevada Department of Corrections are also automatically exempt from the mandatory mediation requirement.

Mediation is an informal process in which neutral mediators assist the disputing parties in resolving their dispute by helping them identify issues and settlement options.

Mediations will be conducted by staff mediators of the Clark County Courts Neighborhood Justice Center at 330 S. 3rd Street, Suite 600, across the street from the Regional Justice Center.

Mediation programs for small-claims cases are already in place in many cities across the country. Chief Judge Karen Bennett-Haron of the Las Vegas Justice Court believes that the Court’s new mediation process will result in increased satisfaction among the parties, a reduction in the need for future litigation, and a more efficient use of judicial resources. If parties cannot resolve their issues in mediation, the case will be scheduled for trial at a later date.

For questions about Small Claims Mediation, please contact the Clark County Courts Neighborhood Justice Center at (702) 455-3898.
2/25/2012 12:02:15 PM

Nevada Default Package $90.00 + $15.00 court fee
Las Vegas Justice Court only

As you may have read in other parts of this website, the procedures in the Las Vegas Small Claims Justice court have changed. North Las Vegas and Henderson Justice Centers have not changed procedures yet.

Obtaining a Judgment in the Las Vegas Justice Court has also changed. Since there is not an automatic court date, Plaintiff’s now have to file their own Default Judgment documents if the Defendant does not file an Answer with the court. The Defendant has twenty (20) days to file an Answer with the court after Service has been made.

If an Answer has been filed, the court will mail you a Notice of Mediation hearing. This court now requires that if the Defendant files an Answer, a mandatory Mediation hearing is set. If the Mediation hearing does not yield an agreement or settlement, the court will set a typical Small Claims hearing in front of the Judge.

If you have not yet received a Notice from the court, check the Las Vegas Justice Court website:

Click “Justice Civil Records” and enter your case number

We suggest you wait 25 days to be sure. At that point, you are ready to have prepare and file your Default Judgment documents.

1/13/2012 2:07:03 PM

As most of you already know, we don't always collect our judgments right away. If the Judgment Debtor refuses to pay the judgment, you look for assets to execute on. You don't think he/she is working. Therefore, we cannot garnish wages. The debtor does not own property. Therefore, you cannot lien real property. You're not sure where the Debtor currently lives. Hence, you don't know where a Judgment Debtor Examination can even be served. You don't know where he/she banks. Naturally, a bank levy cannot be served.

Wait! has hired on a terrific asset investigator, specializing in Bank Account locates. Therefore, we now offer this service to you.

What is the fee?

If no accounts are found.....................................$75.00 per entity searched

Per bank locate....................................................$300.00
*There is no additional fee for multiple accounts located at the same bank
What information do you get? Depending on the bank and the difficulty in obtaining the information,
you will get some of, or all of, the following information:

Type of account (checking, savings, etc)
Bank name
Bank address
Account Balance

What information do we need to initiate your search?

Name of Judgment Debtor (full name of either individual or busines entity)
Last known address
Social Security Number of individual or
Tax Identification Number of business entity (Corp., LLC, LLP, Partnership)

How do you request your search?

Simply e-mail

In the e-mail, you must include your name, address, phone number

11/4/2011 6:51:55 PM

As most of you probably are not aware, the Las Vegas Justice Center has completely changed it's Small Claims procedures. It's not all bad news. In fact, overall, we beleive that these changes bring good news to Las Vegas Litigants. Please note that the North Las Vegas and Henderson Justice Courts have not yet changed their procedures.
Gone are the days when you file a case and are given a hearing date to appear in front of the Judge. Some of you have probably noticed that your newly filed claims do not have hearing dates at the bottom. A mediation hearing is now required before the litigants ever get a chance to be in front of the Judge.
After being served with the Small Claims action, the Defendant has twenty (20) days to file an Answer. He/she must file this Answer online or utilize a computer at the Justice Center. If no answer is filed, the Plaintiff can file for a Default Judgment.
If there is no settlement agreed upon at Mediation, the court will set a hearing before the Judge. We are told that the trials will be scheduled approximately 2-3 weeks from the date of the Mediation hearing.

Please note that will prepare and file your Default Judgment for $85.00.

To request the Default Judgment Service, simply make a request to:

In the email, please supply us with your Claim ID number.

How do you know if you can file for a Default? Count the days from the date we serve the Defendant. If after 30 days you have not received either an Answer from the Defendant or a Notice of Mediation from the court, you are ready to file your Default Judgment. Yes, without ever walking into the courthouse, you can have a Default Judgment. This is good news!!

As always, don't hesitate to call or email me with any of your questions.

Carl Vesper

Click here to enter into SCD Site-Nevada homepage

Below is a more detailed explanation of the changes.

Clark County New Procedures

Small Claims Answer (as of September 1, 2011)
In all Small Claims cases filed on or after September 1, 2011, all Defendants are required to electronically file (E-File) their Answer with the Justice Court Clerk's Office and a mail a copy by United States Mail, with first-class postage, to the Plaintiff(s) within 20 calendar days of service of the Complaint. Your failure to answer (respond to) the Complaint within 20 calendar days may result in the Plaintiff filing a Motion for Default Judgment against you. This means the Judge may grant a Judgment for the Plaintiff based on the claims/allegations in the Complaint without considering your possible defense(s) or explanation(s).

Parties in all Small Claims cases filed on or after September 1, 2011, are required to attend mediation. Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process in which a neutral third person called a mediator helps the parties communicate about the issues and options for resolving differences in order to reach an agreement on all or part of the issues in dispute. The parties keep the right to make decisions about their case; the mediator guides the process but does not decide the case. The mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, encouraging joint problem-solving, and exploring settlement alternatives. Please plan on spending 2-3 hours in mediation, although some matters can be mediated in less time. Only decision-makers may participate in mediation. You may bring evidence to share with the other party, but witnesses are not typically invited into the mediation room.

If a settlement has been agreed on by all parties, the mediator will complete the Court Mediation Agreement form and have all parties sign the form. The original Agreement will become part of the case file. The Neighborhood Justice Center will give each party a copy and keep a copy.

Cases that were not successfully resolved by mediation will have a Small Claims hearing date set by the Court 10 to 21 days later. Parties will be notified of their Small Claims hearing date by letter.
10/30/2011 9:38:33 PM

What do I mean by this. Let's suppose you buy a $1,000 antique from an individual in Kentucky. After receiving the item you realize that the antique is a fake or it was damaged when you received it. The seller refuses to admit that the item is a fake. Further, the seller could care less that your antique is damaged. You ask for your money back and the seller will not return any of your letters or emails. At this point, you want to sue the seller in Small Claims court. You run a property deeds report and find that the seller owns her home. You're envisioning a Process Server knockig on her door and serving her. Oh Yeah! Surely the seller will call me and make arrangements to send my $1,000 back. Not so fast.
The California Small Claims court does not allow Service of Process out of the state. There are two exceptions. One, if you have to sue a landlord who lives of state. The other exception is in the case of an automobile accident, where the Defendant (while visiting California and involved in an accident) lives out of state.
What do you do? You could hire an Attorney and utilize the upper court. This court allows you to serve a Defendant anywhere. Oh, you're right, this is way too costly. Your other choice is to sue the Defendant in his/her home state of Kentucky. However, you'll have to pack up the family and take a mini-vacation to Kentucky if a hearing is scheduled.
What's the point here. When buying anything online, buy California! Websites, such as Ebay, allow the buyer to search for sellers in specific geographical areas.
Buy California!
10/19/2011 9:19:35 PM

More good news for the Small Claims court!!

On July 8, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 221 into law. SB 221 increases the Small Claims Court jurisdictional limit from $7,500 to $10,000 with two caveats. First, the jurisdictional limit of the Small Claims Court will remain $7,500 for claims of bodily injury resulting from a car accident if the defendant in the action is insured and the insured’s policy includes a duty to defend. Second, the Small Claims jurisdictional limit will remain $5,000 for suits brought by entities such as corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and the like.

It should also be noted that pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 116.231, an individual may not file more than two small claims actions that exceed $2,500 in any year.

Since the new legislation does not include an “effective date,” it is assumed that SB 221 will become law on January 1, 2012.
10/8/2011 1:59:24 PM

October 1, 2011 has brought some good news to Oregon Small Claims Plaintiff's. The court increases the maximum claim limit from $7,500 to $10,000. We really like this change. It's hard not to surmise that more small claims cases will be filed. Plaintiff's with claims between $7,500 and $10,000 will no longer need to reduce their prayer amount to satisfy limits of Small Claims. I can tell you first hand that many of our Oregon clients are thrilled.
Note that the filing fees have also changed.
Claims up to $1,500 carry a $46.50 filing fee.
Claims of $1,500.01 to $10,000 require an $86.50 filing fee.

Good news for all!
10/8/2011 1:00:35 PM

The Nevada Small Claims court has made some big changes. In July 2011, they raised the claim amount to $7,500.00 from $5,000.00. In September of this year, Clark County, Las Vegas Justice Center now requires all Small Claims cases to be filed electronically. In addition, a Defendant now must file an answer with the court. Further, this Answer must be filed electronically; either using the Wiznet program or using the computers at the Las Vegas Justice center. The Small Claims Complaint and Proof of Service form have changed.

Very important to note- When you (or we) file your case, you are not given a hearing date. If the Defendant files an Answer, the court will first set a Mediation hearing. If the two parties are unable to mediate, the court will then schedule a trial before the Judge.

Don't worry, will take care of all of this for you anyway.

Please note that the Henderson and North County Justice Centers are not online yet. One still has to file the old fashioned way.

*******Very Important: The Henderson court strongly enforces the rule of having to show proof of a certified demand letter. When your case is filed, the Clerks require a copy of (or original) the green certified envelope**********

Here is a more detailed version of the Clark County Small Claims Changes:

Clark County New Procedures
Small Claims Answer (as of September 1, 2011)
In all Small Claims cases filed on or after September 1, 2011, all Defendants are required to electronically file (E-File) their Answer with the Justice Court Clerk's Office and a mail a copy by United States Mail, with first-class postage, to the Plaintiff(s) within 20 calendar days of service of the Complaint. Your failure to answer (respond to) the Complaint within 20 calendar days may result in the Plaintiff filing a Motion for Default Judgment against you. This means the Judge may grant a Judgment for the Plaintiff based on the claims/allegations in the Complaint without considering your possible defense(s) or explanation(s).

Parties in all Small Claims cases filed on or after September 1, 2011, are required to attend mediation. Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process in which a neutral third person called a mediator helps the parties communicate about the issues and options for resolving differences in order to reach an agreement on all or part of the issues in dispute. The parties keep the right to make decisions about their case; the mediator guides the process but does not decide the case. The mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, encouraging joint problem-solving, and exploring settlement alternatives. Please plan on spending 2-3 hours in mediation, although some matters can be mediated in less time. Only decision-makers may participate in mediation. You may bring evidence to share with the other party, but witnesses are not typically invited into the mediation room.

If a settlement has been agreed on by all parties, the mediator will complete the Court Mediation Agreement form and have all parties sign the form. The original Agreement will become part of the case file. The Neighborhood Justice Center will give each party a copy and keep a copy.

Cases that were not successfully resolved by mediation will have a Small Claims hearing date set by the Court 10 to 21 days later. Parties will be notified of their Small Claims hearing date by letter.

Small Claims Hearings

When a Small Claims Complaint is filed, the Court will assign a case number and a mediation hearing date. This date will be approximately 38 to 90 days from the date on which the Small Claims was filed. This will allow sufficient time for the Plaintiff to serve the Complaint on the Defendant and to return the Proof of Service to the Court.

On your Small Claims hearing date, you will go to a courtroom with many people who have also been scheduled for that day. First, the clerk will call the roll from the docket to see who is in attendance. Once this is done, a default judgment will be entered in cases where the Plaintiff appeared and the Defendant did not appear. If only the Defendant appears, but the Plaintiff did not appear, the case will be dismissed. It is very important to not be late, because if you arrive after the roll call, your case may already have been handled by either a default judgment or a dismissal.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At the beginning of each Court session, in the mornings and afternoons, there may be a lengthy line of people waiting to enter the courthouse through security. Be certain to arrive early so that you do not miss your case being called.

Next, the courtroom clerk will call your case and both parties will be assigned to a mediator. Your matter will be mediated at that time, or if there are a number of people waiting, it will be heard as soon as possible. The mediation will take place in a conference room within the Regional Justice Center. Cases that did not fully settle during mediation will be scheduled for a Small Claims hearing before a referee, 10 to 21 days later. Parties will be notified of their Small Claims hearing date by letter.

If your case goes to hearing before a referee, you and the other party in your case will move to the front of the courtroom. When your case number and names are called, you can present your arguments and tell your stories to the referee. Small Claims cases usually take no more than 10 or 15 minutes. It is very important, therefore, that you plan ahead regarding what you will say. Your story should be well organized and to the point. Do not go off on tangents, include too many details, or be repetitious. Stay calm and polite.

If you are the Plaintiff, you will speak first. As the Plaintiff, it is your burden to prove your case. You should not assume that the Defendant will admit fault or liability, so you must inform the referee of enough facts to convince him or her that you should win. Your opening statement should summarize the nature of your claim and the damages you have suffered as a result of injury, breach of contract, violation of a right, etc.; why the other person is at fault through intentional or negligent behavior; and why you did not contribute substantially to the loss.

If you are the Defendant, you will speak after the Plaintiff. As the Defendant, you may make an opening statement after the Plaintiff is done, or you may make your opening statement after the Plaintiff has presented their entire case and before you offer any evidence, including your own testimony. The Plaintiff has the burden of proving their case. You may decide whether or not to testify or present any witnesses. You may wish to tell the referee why you are not responsible for the claims made by the Plaintiff or present other evidence. Court staff cannot advise you on whether to testify or present evidence.

You may also bring witnesses, either someone who has firsthand knowledge of the facts (example, he saw the accident) or is an expert on the subject (example, the mechanic who examined your car after it was towed). You can also present documents or other evidence for the referee to consider. After both sides have presented their arguments, the referee may ask questions or allow cross-examination. The referee may decide the case immediately; if the matter is complicated, the referee may take the case "under advisement." This means that the referee will consider the facts, or research questions of law, and will issue a decision in writing at a later time.

If the case is heard by a referee, the referee will prepare written "Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendations." Either party may object to the referee's written decision by filing a Formal Objection within 5 days after receipt of that decision. Because of this rule, two outcomes are possible: o A timely objection can be filed, and a Justice of the Peace will review the matter by "trial de novo" (a new trial in w
4/14/2011 4:56:35 PM

Get Your Security Deposit Back!
Chances are that you have handed over a lot of money in order to move into your apartment. This is your money. The landlord must agree to do a pre-move-out inspection and can only withhold your deposit for certain specific reasons.
If your landlord does not return your security deposit, you can sue in the California small claims court. will process your claim from start to finish. We file in every California Small Claims Court. Your job? Show up to court and win your case.
We will Prepare your case, File in any of CA’s 58 Counties, Serve your Landlord (anywhere in the United States) and Prepare & File the Proof of Service. Should you win your case, we even help with Collection.
Click here to begin the process.
Moving Out
The law stipulates that a landlord do a pre-move-out inspection with you, let you fix identified deficiencies and limits what can be withheld. It also says how long the landlord has to return your money and what he must do to justify any withholding.
According to California Civil Code Section 1950.5:
•The landlord must notify you in writing that you have the right to an inspection and must conduct an inspection of the apartment with you. The inspection should be done in the last 2 weeks of tenancy. The landlord must let you fix anything which is wrong and the landlord is limited to taking deductions for unfixed deficiencies, damage which occurred after the inspection, or damage not found at the time of the inspection.
•Your deposit must be returned to you within 21 days after you move out. Your landlord must give you a written, itemized statement of the reason for any amount withheld from your deposit. Money can be withheld only for:
–Unpaid Rent (talk to a counselor if you are breaking a lease or giving less than 30 days’ notice).
–Damage caused by you beyond normal wear and tear.
–“Reasonable” cleaning charges.
•If your security deposit is not returned or accounted for within 21 days, you can
sue the landlord in Small Claims (limit is $7,500; if higher, then lawsuit would be in Superior Court Limited Jurisdiction) court for the amount of the deposit, plus twice the amount of the deposit if you can show bad faith, plus any actual damages.
Landlords must provide receipts documenting the costs of claimed repairs or estimates, unless the landlord does the work themselves (in which case they must describe the work done. In either case, if materials are purchased, copies of the purchase receipts must be provided (or estimates).
Protecting Your Deposit When Moving Out
As when moving in, you can take some basic precautions when you move out.
•Be sure to give at least 30 days written notice before you move out. Technically, you are responsible to pay rent for these 30 days and your landlord can deduct “unpaid rent” from your deposit. If you need to move quickly because of conditions in your apartment or if you are breaking a lease, talk to one of the Tenants Union counselors.
•On the day you move out, have the landlord or manager do a final inspection of the apartment with you. Try to arrange an exchange of your keys for your security deposit. Or have the landlord/manager sign and date a statement that the place is clean and in good condition. If the landlord won’t exchange keys or sign a statement, take pictures/videos of the condition of the apartment (hold up a copy of the day’s newspaper to show the pictures weren’t taken earlier).
Stubborn Landlords
If your landlord does not return your money on time or if he unjustly withholds some of it, be prepared to assert your rights. Remember, many landlords withhold all security deposits knowing that many tenants will not take the steps to get back their money.
Again,’s Platinum Package (for only $165 plus court filing fee) will process everything needed before your hearing date.
Click here to begin the process. We'll file in any California Small claims Court. Naturally, Los Angeles county small claims is the busiest county in California. However, the San Diego Small Claims court and Orange County Small Claims courts are close behind.

•Send a letter to your landlord requesting the money. Refer to the Security Deposit Laws (CCC Sec. 1950.5). Give the landlord a deadline date of when you expect the money.
•If the landlord doesn’t respond within a reasonable time, you can take him/her to Small Claims Court. For a small filing fee, you can sue for up to $7,500. In addition to the disputed money, you can sue for statutory damages for your landlord’s illegally withholding your deposit. Small Claims Court is informal and no lawyers are allowed. Approximately 60-90 days after we file your claim, a hearing will be held. You will tell your side of the story and the landlord will tell his/her side. Your written documentation (receipts, inspection report, photos, etc.) will help your case.
Some Helpful hints:
Moving In
When you move in, your landlord will ask for some type of deposit. Whatever it's called, the law treats this initial payment as security deposit subject to California Civil Code Section 1950.5.
According to this state law:
•There is no such thing as a “nonrefundable” security deposit. No matter what it’s called—a key deposit, cleaning fee, move-in fee, closing costs, last month’s rent, etc.—all money you pay in addition to your first month’s rent is refundable. Since “nonrefundable” deposits are illegal, don’t worry if your rental agreement includes a section about a “nonrefundable” deposit. This section will not be valid even if you have signed the rental contract or agreed to it.
•No matter what it’s called, the total amount the landlord can charge for all the deposits (including last month’s rent) is twice the amount of one month’s rent for an unfurnished place or three times one month’s rent for a furnished place.
Protecting Your Deposit When Moving In
Take some of these basic precautions when you move in. Many tenants end up going to Small Claims Court to get their deposits back and these precautions can give you needed evidence.
•Get an itemized receipt for your deposit. This receipt will identify each charge (for example, pet deposit, last month’s rent, cleaning fees, etc.).
•When moving in, take careful inventory of the condition of the place. Record any existing damage and check all appliances to make sure they work properly. Ask the landlord to sign and date the inventory and be sure to keep a copy (if s/he won’t sign, send a copy to them and mail one to yourself—which you save unopened). Pictures or videos of the existing condition of the apartment can also be helpful later.

2/21/2011 3:25:07 PM

By Carl A. Vesper, President,

Do you ever wonder which counties in California file the most Small Claims cases? Are some counties more litigious, per capita, than others? These are the type of statistics that keep me up at night (just kidding, sort of).
I researched several studies to find out some of these answers. Most of the results were expected, but some not.

The table below lists the top 12 counties in order of pure number of new Small Claims cases filed. However, we wouldn’t have any frame of reference if we didn’t know the populations in each of these counties. Therefore, the population for these top 12 counties are also listed. Further, I’ve calculated the number of cases filed per person. You’ll notice that all counties come in at less than 1/10 of one case filed per year, per person. In other words, for every ten people one new small claims case was filed.

As expected, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego took up the top three spots in number of new cases filed. Generally, all 12 counties fell in line with their corresponding population numbers.

The most surprising statistic was the difference in number of cases filed per person. I was surprised that the top two,Los Angeles and Orange County, also had the highest number of cases filed per person, .0076 and .0071 respectively. The bottom two, Fresno and Kern, had the lowest number of cases filed per person. Why is this?

Could it be that those counties with more courthouses per geographic area simply file more cases? Could it be that those counties that offer e-filing generate more or less cases? Is it possible that the distance between the populous and the courthouse(s) results in a smaller number of filings simply because the courts are too far away? Could the higher density cities/counties naturally generate more claims because there is more commerce?
All of these will be answered another time.

What you should know is that the number of new California Small Claims filings has fallen greatly in the last 10 years. In 1999-2000, a total of 320,574 new cases were filed in all of the California Small Claims courts. The number of cases filed in 2008-2009 fell to 232,378-a dip of 28%.

One more statistic. Out of the 232,378 cases filed in 2008-2009, only 6,456 were appealed. This amounts to only 2.8%. I hope this brings a smile to all you Plaintiff’s who just recently won your case.

Small Claims cases filed in Top 12 California Counties

County # Of Case Filed Population # of Cases filed per person
Los Angeles 78,771 10,363,850 .0076
Orange 22,450 3,121,251 .0071
San Diego 20,927 3,146,274 .0066
San Bernardino 15,531 2,055,755 .0075
Riverside 14,475 2,088,322 .0069
Sacramento 8,807 1,424,415 .0061
Alameda 7,704 1,543,000 .0049
Santa Clara 7,258 1,837,075 .0039
Ventura 4,868 831,587 .0058
Contra Costa 4,784 1,051,674 .0045
Fresno 4,125 931,098 .0044
Kern 3,423 817,517 .0041

1/23/2011 3:42:43 PM

I probably get five calls a day asking to explain what options clients have after they win their Small Claims Judgment. It has been said before that "getting the Judgment is often the easy part, it's collecting that is difficult". I am also not the first to state that almost 80% of Small Claims Judgments go uncollected. This does not mean that you should not try. We at have been collecting and/or assisting our clients with Post Judgment collection for over 15 years. Check out the options below. We did not list all Post Judgment remedies; only the ones that are more practical for collecting Small Claims Judgments. If you still have questions, don't hesitate to call or write me.


Carl Vesper

Post Judgment Methods
Options to Collect Once you obtain Judgment

Bank Levy/Wage Garnishment

I have always argued that the best method of collection is the Bank Levy, followed closely by the Wage Garnishment. Why?
Simply because you will collect your Judgment quicker. If you happen to levy on the judgment debtor's financial institution (garnishee) when the account has enough to satisfy your judgment, you may ultimately get your entire Judgment in one check. You also may receive a portion of your judgment (it all depends on what is in the account at the time the financial institution is served). I wrote "may" because the Debtor does have the option of filing for a Claim of Exemption. I'll try not to clutter this article with too many "may happens". As Private Process Servers, can assist with all of the paperwork and ultimately serve the financial institution and/or place of employment. No, you don't have to be a Sheriff to serve Bank Levies and/or Wage Garnishments.

You should know that as judgment creditors you are able to levy on a bank account and levy wages at the same time. In addition, you are not limited to one bank or one wage garnishment. If a judgment debtor has funds in more than one institution, we can serve all at the same time. If the judgment debtor works two jobs, both can be garnished. Furthermore, if we levy a bank today, we can levy again the next day, next week, next month.

Judgment Creditors are not limited to one method or the other. As long as you have not yet collected the full judgment, one can levy on a bank, garnish wages and utilize the other methods discussed later in this article.

You also should know that the advantage of utilizing a Private Process Server is that we can (or you can) monitor the daily balance in the account. When the account has a sufficient amount to satisfy, or partially satisfy, your judgment, we can serve the bank that day. If the Sheriff processes your levy, you have no idea when they will serve. In addition, can give you statuses at any time. The Sheriff is not equipped to give statuses.

But let's not put the cart before the horse. The pre-requisite for both the Bank Levy or Wage Garnishment is that you either know where the Judgment Debtor banks or where he/she is employed. Many of our clients are unaware that if you have ever paid the judgment debtor with a check, than you very well may know where they bank by simply looking at the back of the processed check. Before levying you would need to verify that the account is still good. Similarly, if you believe you know where the Judgment Debtor works, you must verify if he/she is currently employed. does offer searches for both open depository accounts and/or place of employment searches.

Just a note about when you actually receive the funds for both the Bank Levy and the Wage Garnishment. I always advise my clients to be patient. There is process that the banks/employers and Sheriffs must adhere to.

The bank has ten (10) days to return the Memorandum of Garnishee to the Sheriff after the levy is served. This document tells the Sheriff what the bank is holding on behalf of the Judgment Creditor. In turn, the Sheriff will send the judgment creditor a copy of this document. Similarly, the employer has 15 days to return the Employers Return to the Sheriff's Office. Once the Sheriff receives a check from the bank or employer they hold it for 20 days before
The Judgment Debtor has to be given time to file a Claim of Exemption. I won't get into the mechanics of what options the Judgment Creditor has in responding to the Claim of Exemption. Just know that you can file for a Claim of Exemption hearing where a Judge will hear the Judgment Debtors' reasons for the exemption.
You will start to receive payments as a result of a Wage Garnishment in approximately the same time You will receive payments that represent a percentage of the Judgment Debtors' wages. If the Judgment Debtor quits or gets fired, the payments stop.

Judgment Debtor Examination

The Judgment Debtor Examination is a very good post judgment technique when you do not already have knowledge of the judgment debtor's assets (bank account, employment, real property,etc). The Judgment Debtor Examination also known as Application and Order for Appearance and Examination requires the judgment debtor to appear in court and answer questions regarding his or her assets. Some of our clients also add a Civil Subpoena Duces Tecum, which requires the judgment debtor to bring certain items to the hearing. Common items that are requested are: copies of tax returns, copies of bank statements, deeds of trust).

The Judgment Debtor Examination is filed at the court at which your Small Claims hearing was held. The court fee is $25.00. The Judgment Debtor Examination must be personally served and must be served no later than 10 days before the hearing. You should also know that this document is typically more difficult to serve. First, because it must be personally served. Second, since the judgment debtor has already been served with the Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go To Small Claims Court, he or she may be more evasive.

Service of this order creates a lien on the personal property of the judgment debtor for a period of one year from the date of the order unless extended or sooner terminated by the court.

Finally, since the Judgment Debtor Examination is an Order from the court, there are ramifications for not showing up to the hearing. I'll quote the Code of Civil Procedure "If you (judgment debtor) fail to appear at the time and date and place specified in this order, you may be subject to arrest and punishment for contempt of court and the court may make an order requiring you to pay the reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the judgment creditor in this proceeding".

Abstract of Judgment/Lien on Property

If you believe that the judgment debtor owns real property (single family residence, condominium, townhouse,land, commercial property). filing a lien is always a good idea. If the judgment debtor ever sells the property or re-finances, you will will be contacted and paid off (with interest). Getting that call from an Escrow company for a pay-off is mighty sweet!
Abstracts of Judgment last for 10 years, the same amount of time a judgment is good for. Be sure to renew the Abstract well before the final hour or risk having your lien removed from the real property.

Getting your lien is a two step process. First an Abstract has to be produced and filed at the Small Claims clerks office where your hearing was heard. As with other post judgment filings, you must wait 30 days after your judgment to file. The filing fee is now $25.00 to file the Abstract.
After filed, the Abstract is recorded in the county or counties that you believe the judgment debtor owns real property. The county recorder will charge approximately $23 to $30 to record. You are not limited as to how many counties you can file your Abstract.

Many clients will
1/9/2011 1:42:10 PM

Just a reminder that is the only California Small Claims Processing company that offers almost every Pre-Judgment and Post-Judgment service. While other firms will help you simply fie your case and leave it up to you to find somebody to serve, is your one stop California Small Claims processing company.
Other firms will help you file and serve your case. However, will assist you in filing: Dismissals, Continuances, Appeals, Motion to Vacate, Writ of Execution et al. Our California Small Claims court division assists you in collecting your judgment. For 18 years now, we have been processing Bank Levies, Wage Garnishments, Property Liens, Judgment Debtor Examinations and more.
The California Small Claims court has never been easier when partnering with
12/18/2010 9:23:25 AM

How many of you have been burned by NSF checks? Most of us get on the phone and contact the maker of the check and make arrangements. However, what if the individual or company that wrote the check has suddenly disconnected their phone and/or won't return your e-mails or letters. Unfortunately for me, this scenario has played out many times over the last 20 years. Many of you are aware of the Treble Damages laws in California pertaining to collection on NSF checks. However, I also know that many of you are not aware. I write this because we have processed scores of Small Claims cases whereby the Plaintiff is only asking for the face amount of the check. If you follow the correct procedure, you can file a Small Claims suit for the face amount of the check, plus Treble Damages (up to 3 times the amount of the check!!) What are Treble Damages?? Read Below!

So you've tried to contact the individual or company that has written you an NSF Check. Your letters, calls, e-mails have gone unanswered. What to do? Well, did you know that the maker of the check can be liable for the amount of the check plus three times the amount? Here's the shortened version. The full text of the law is posted below this article.

* Mail a written demand via Certified mail to the person/company that includes: the provisions of CCP Code Sec. 1719, the amount of the check and the amount of the service charge payable to the payee and the cost to send the Certified Letter.

* If this person/company fails to pay in full the amount of the check, the service charge payable to the payee, and the costs to mail the written demand within 30 days from the date demand letter was sent, the writer of the check will than be liable for:

1. The amount of the check
2. The Bank Service charge
3. The cost to send the Certified Letter
4. Treble Damages in the amount
of no less than $100 nor more than $1,500.

What does this really mean? Here's an example:

A client gives you an NSF check for $250. You send the demand letter and the client does not respond within 30 days from the day the letter was mailed.

Here's the amount you can now recover:

1. $250.00 check
2. $35.00 your bank service fee
3. $6.00 cost to send certified letter
4. $750.00 treble damages (3 X the amount of check)
Total $1,041.00

11/11/2010 9:03:23 PM

Ellen Spertus sued Kozmo for sending her spam after she opted not to receive their e-mails. Is this a case of a money grabbing opportunity or something San Diego small claims court should brace for?

Spam is annoying. Spam is irritating. Spam can be downright embarrassing. But is spam San Diego small claims court material? Well, let’s examine the evidence. I know of a case where a spam message was attached to a worm. A worm “crawls” through your contact list and sends itself to everyone in your address book. In this case the spam was for sexual enhancement aids. This poor lady unwittingly sent her friends, family and clients advertisement materials for products to enhance their sex life. Unfortunately this included a male friend who had problems of a sexual nature. The results were embarrassing and damaging.

I personally know of a company owner who has to set aside copious amounts of time each week to sit down and go through his e-mails. Despite his best efforts to keep spam out of his in box, he is still inundated with unwanted messages. The problem has gotten so bad, important messages have become lost or answered late because the constant need to filter through and discard hundreds of unimportant messages.

What can a person do if using the opt-out option is not enough? Spertus tried that with Kozmo and then tried to contact their privacy department once the messages did not stop. When both those avenues failed her, she sued.

San Diego small claims court may see increasing levels of spam cases in the future. There are precious few resources available to those harassed by spam; San Diego small claims court and other small claims courts around the country may be the only the place to find relief.

The judgement awarded to Spertus was not large. It was barely enough to cover a nice dinner on the town. However, this may very well be a David and Goliath situation (and we all know how the giant fared in that fatal incident). Perhaps Spertus is on to something here. One case is not enough to stop the giant spam machine but if more people follow her lead, the spammers are going to start hurting. If they hurt bad enough, perhaps they will stop, lick their wounds and retreat.

Was it a money grabbing opportunity? Not a chance. Should San Diego small claims court brace itself? I certainly hope so. Will spammers get their day in court? At first one could only wish and pray. Now one can also sue.
10/27/2010 5:14:01 AM

So you chosen to file small claims and your court date is approaching. What should you do? Now would be a great time to brush up on communication skills and prepare a winning argument.

It is called an argument because two parties are discussing a disagreement. After you file small claims and arrive at your hearing date, your court appearance should not turn into what we commonly think of when we hear the word “argument” – fighting, yelling, crying and name calling! Not only would that type of argument be incredibly counterproductive, it would also hurt your case. A winning argument is one in which you calmly and plainly state your case and allow the other party to be heard as well.

This can be achieved by following the basic rules you would observe if having a constructive disagreement with a family member, spouse or good friend. You would never want to intentionally hurt someone you care about by using abusive language, belittling or berating. Likewise, before the judge, you should never use inappropriate language or strive to show your opponent in a negative or unflattering light. Simply file small claims, state the facts, and let the evidence speak for itself.

One thing to avoid at all costs is to let negative stereotypes creep into your argument. Never refer to the other party by a name that is racist or offensive. When you file small claims or any other type of claim, both parties are equal in the eyes of the law; showing disrespect for this equality will not be tolerated. You risk your case as well as your reputation when you single out the other with racist or hateful language. Even if your personal beliefs lead you to strongly believe the other’s actions were motivated by race, sexual orientation, etc you must still simply present the facts and let the judge make a decision.

The judge is fair, impartial and will make a decision in the best interest of both parties and by what is right by law. Verbally attacking the judge or rudely calling his or her mental faculties into question is not appropriate. You may not like the decision of the judge, but you must respect it.

When you file small claims, go into the courtroom prepared to give your argument in a calm and factual manner.
9/21/2010 12:37:30 AM

Californians rely on California small claims court to settle disputes under $7,500. This established process has been around and functioning for many years. Do you wonder how it all got started?

Surprisingly, small claims court is not a very old institution and California small claims did not kick off the entire process. That honor goes to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1913, less than 100 years ago, the first American small claims court was established in Ohio. It must have been a success since all municipal and country courts were ordered to create their own small claims court departments in 1925. Following that, it only took a few years before every state had a small claims court division.

The process has not changed much since its inception. Like the small claims courts of yesteryear, the plaintiff starts a claim by filling out and filing paperwork and the hearing still takes place sans jury. What has changed, however, is the claim amount. In New York, for example, a plaintiff could claim $50 in 1934, $100 in 1945 and $5000 in 2004. California small claims cap at $7,500. Each state sets their own filing fees and claim amounts.

The types of cases heard in small claims court has not varied much either. Like cases heard in California small claims, complaints revolve around damaged property, unpaid loans, and landlord/tenant issues. Items such as criminal cases and custody disputes are heard in other courts.

It says a lot for the process that so little has changed in nearly a century. In fact, the only changes seen involve the natural process of modernization. In this digital age, it would be counterproductive not to use the Internet to facilitate the efficiency of small claims court. Many states offer downloadable forms, and those needing the services of California small claims can even outsource the entire process by filing out an online package and paying a nominal fee. The plaintiff needs only to show up to the hearing when instructed.

Like small claims all across America, California small claims will continue to be treated with the utmost dignity, honesty and fairness we have come to expect from the American legal system. The strong historical foundation of small claims court moves us to the promising future of this process where everyone of every race, income and social status can evoke his or her right to be heard and treated fairly.
8/24/2010 12:33:36 AM

Statue of limitations apply when you file small claims. If you wait too long to file, your case becomes irrelevant and may be dismissed by the judge.

The California Courts website’s self-help section lays out the appropriate time frames to file small claims as follows:

  • "If you are suing because you got hurt, you can file a claim for up to two years after you were hurt.

  • If you are suing because a spoken agreement was broken, you have 2 years to file after the agreement was broken.

  • If you are suing because a written agreement was broken, you have 4 years to file after the agreement was broken.

  • If you are suing because your property was damaged, you have 3 years to file after your property was damaged.

  • If you are suing because of fraud, you have 3 years to file after you find out about the fraud. Fraud is when you lose money because someone lied to you or tricked you on purpose.

  • If you are suing a government or public agency, you have 6 months to file a claim with that agency. They have 45 days in which to make a decision. If no decision is made with 45 days then it is deemed denied. If they reject your claim, you have 6 months to file a claim with a small claims court."

If you file small claims that have circumstances outside of the above guidelines, you can file your claim and let the judge decide whether to hear your case.

If you have waited too long, however, there are a few options open to you to file small claims. The defendant can ask for a postponement, for example. If the claim is not served in the allotted timeframe because the defendant cannot be located, you can show the court clerk your service copy of the claim and ask for more time to find the defendant.

When you file small claims, you should act in a timely manner. Never leave the issue until it is too late since it takes time for your paperwork to be processed and up to 70 days before you go to court. During these time lapses, important evidence may be lost and memories of the incident become cloudy.

File small claims promptly to increase your chance of a successful lawsuit.

8/4/2010 9:12:19 PM

You have been sued or initiated a lawsuit in small claims court California. The documents are filed and your court date is approaching. Now what? Now is the time to start preparing for your hearing.

When you are before the judge in small claims court California, you will have the opportunity to say, in your own words, your side of the story. It is important to remember, however, that the judge was not there when the alleged incidents took place, so the more proof you have, the stronger your case will be. Proof you can bring to the courtroom includes (but is not limited to) witnesses, photographs, contracts, receipts, small items (if your dress was damaged by dry cleaning, for example, you could bring the dress), etc.

Do not try to enhance your evidence or tamper with it in any way. Altering photos or documents will make you look dishonest and raise doubts in the judge’s mind about your ethics. Judges in small claims court California strive to be fair. If you present your evidence honestly, your side of the story will be considered fairly.

You may also use this time to observe hearings. Small claims court California is open to the public. You can sit in on a few cases to get an idea of what to expect on your trial date. If you are nervous about telling your story, ask a friend to observe a case or two with you. Then you can practice what you want to say with them or in front of a mirror. While it may seem silly to do this at first, it will ultimately go a long way to calming your nerves and recalling information you wanted to present on the date of your hearing.

Finally, spend some time considering what you will wear to court. It is inappropriate to wear revealing or provocative clothing in the courtroom. It is taken as a sign of disrespect and will work against you. You should be comfortable and well presented. Avoid track suits, sweat pants, shorts and anything dirty, ill-fitting, torn or worn out. Wear clothes that show the judge you respect yourself and the legal establishment.

It would be difficult not to be nervous when summoned to small claims court California, but if you take the time to be prepared, you will arrive confident and ready; and you will stand a much better chance of leaving with the ruling in your favor.
7/3/2010 10:02:47 PM

Here's What You've Been Asking For

Dear Clients,

We realize that most of you do not make it a habit to sue in Small Claims Court. Taking 2-3 hours away from work (or play) to spend in Small Claims court is not quite as pleasing as a day at the Beach with your family. However, Leading up to your hearing date, many of you don't know what to expect. You may have some anxiety if you have never appeared in Small Claims Court. You've seen Judge Judy, but wonder if that is really what to expect. The article below will walk you through each step. Our hope is that you are more comfortable and feel more prepared in the days leading up to your hearing. Remember, most of our clients tell us that the whole experience was much easier that they had anticipated.

Just a reminder to those who do not know, we have added a Blog to our site. Please take a look!
Naturally, if you still have more questions, don't hesitate to call or email our office.


Carl Vesper
President, Co-Founder

Your Day in Court, A Complete Walk Through

Be there early! Look presentable

You've waited for this day for weeks or months. Therefore, do not be late! Plan to be there at least 15 minutes early. Plan for heavy traffic (especially if you have a morning hearing) and time to find parking. Bring extra money for parking and incidentals. Almost every court now will require you to go through a Security Screening machine. This extra security measure causes many courts to have long lines out the front door. Recently, I waited 45 minutes to get into the West Covina Courthouse in the morning.
In addition, please look presentable. A Judge may have a difficult time taking you seriously if you are wearing ripped jeans and a faded, dirty, paint spotted 1984 Lakers T-shirt. Remember, no shorts, flip-flops or Tank-Tops.

What Evidence to bring?

Remember, you can never bring too much evidence with you. However, be sure to organize the evidence in a "workable" manner. It's awfully nerve wracking shuffling through papers in front of the Judge. Oh Yes, what to bring? Here's a list of a few popular Small Claims cases that we often process:
For Automobile accidents: Photographs, repair estimates and/or paid invoice for repairs, Police Reports, any proof of communication (e-mails, texts, letters) that you have had with the other driver, owner or Insurance company.

For Security Deposit Refunds: Copy of Lease, photographs of condition of unit, copy of check paid for Security Deposit, Paid invoices of any work done on unit, copy of CCP code dealing with proper notice and time parameters of returning security deposit.

For Breach of Contract: Copy of contract, copy of invoices/statements for work completed, photographs of work completed, e-mail correspondence, text messages, letters, memorandums, sworn statements, copy of formal complaints made i.e. Better Business Bureau, Department of Automotive Repair, Contractors Board, Bar Association.

Add the following to your list. A simple itemization of how you arrived at the amount you are suing for. This can be simply written out on a piece of lined paper. One column showing the item and the other the amount. Add it up to match the amount suing for on the claim.

I did not include witnesses above. If you are bringing a "friendly" witness with you to court, be sure to inform him/her of the above dress standards. You also may want this witness to go through all of the evidence you are bringing to court. If you have subpoenaed a witness for your case, try to make contact with him/her before the cases start to be heard. You're smart to greet this person and thank him/her for making the appearance.

What Paperwork should you bring that has supplied you with?

1. Copy of Plaintiff's Claim and Order to go to Small Claims Court (SC-100).
2. Copy of filed Proof of Service. Just in case the original did not make its way to the court file.
3. Copy of your paid invoice. May need to show Judge so that our cost is added to your judgment.
4. Filled out Authorization To Appear form (SC-109). If you are appearing on behalf of a Corporation, Partnership, LLC, LLP, this form simply tells the Judge who you are, your title and what company you are appearing for.

Arriving to Court and Getting Settled

At this point, you've parked, gone through Security and are sitting outside the courtroom waiting for the Bailiff to open the courtroom doors. This is also a good time to get those last minute calls and/or texts and final gulp of Starbucks out of the way. Be sure to turn your cell phone off once you enter the courtroom. If you see the Defendant, be pleasant. A simple "good morning", is not going to concede your case. Yelling to the Defendant "You're going down!!" will typically not help your case. Sit back, relax and go over your evidence one more time.

Entering the Courtroom, Pre-Trial Procedures

The courtroom doors are normally opened at exactly the time your hearing is scheduled. If you do not speak English and have a translator, there will be a designated area for you. If you are in a wheelchair the Court Clerk will usher you to another designated area. Another 10-15 minutes later the Bailiff or Court Clerk will start to take "role". If you already have not seen the Defendant present or don't know what he/she looks like, this is the opportunity to see if the Defendant has appeared.
If your name is not called, you need to go see the Court Clerk. There could be a variety of reasons your name was not called. However, a typical reason is that the court does not show that a Proof of Service has been filed. If this happens to you, simply show the Clerk your conformed (stamped) copy of the Proof of Service that you have received from our office (or whomever you utilized to Serve).
After role call, the Bailiff or Court Clerk will brief the litigants on the procedure of the court.

The Clerk or Bailiff will then tell all litigants (in which both parties are present) to go out in the hallway for approximately 15 minutes and exchange evidence. This does not mean that you are obligated to give copies of this evidence to the opposing party. It simply means that you are required to show the other party what evidence that you are prepared to show the Judge. Again, be courteus and respectful to the opposing party. If the opposition is rude and accusatory, simply get up and go back into the courtroom.

You should also know that most courts make an attempt to have the parties either mediate or come to a settlement before the hearings start. You will be told that if your case is settled before the hearings start, your case will be processed before all others.

Just before the Clerk or Bailiff sends you out in the hallway, you will be told that a Mediator is present. If both parties agree to participate in the Mediation Program you will be shuffled into a room to see if both parties, with the help of the Mediator, can come to an amicable agreement (without having to argue before the Judge). You are not obligated to come to an agreement. If a deal is not made, your case will be heard before the Judge. As stated, if you do agree on a "deal", the details of the settlement will be brought to the Judge for his/her signature.

The Typical Order of Cases Heard

I've been in many courts before many Judges. However, there is a pattern as to the order of cases heard. Some Judges may change up the order. Therefore, the following is a typical order:

1. The Judge will first hear the cases where a settlement has been made; with or without the help of the Mediator. The Judge will typically read aloud the settlement and the parties will confirm the deal.
2. The next set of cases heard are those in which only one party is present. When the Defendant only is present,
6/18/2010 3:41:23 AM

You are having a dispute with an individual or a client. You haven’t heard from them for several days and you believe the matter has been laid to rest. Then there is a knock on your door. A man stands there smiling. He hands you something. He’s a process server and you have just been served. You are heading to small claims court California. Now what?

Your initial reaction may be one of shock. That is understandable. The thought of being sued is a very unpleasant and scary thing. However, if you are summoned to small claims court California, you have nothing to fear. Small claims court is where disputes involving nominal sums of money are heard. While you may be asked to pay court fees for the plaintiff if you loose the case, there are no expensive lawyers or punitive damages involved.

If you are being sued in small claims court California, take some time to familiarize yourself with the process. There are several helpful websites, including that will teach you what you need to do to prepare for your hearing. If possible, sit in on a couple of cases. You will see that there is nothing to be intimidated about. A judge hears both sides of the story and issues a ruling based on law. Oftentimes the cases are just two regular people trying to solve an issue. The average person does not have an in-depth knowledge of the law; therefore, a judge is the perfect impartial party to help solve minor disputes involving legal issues.

Try not to think about the plaintiff with hostility. It may be difficult for him or her to confront you directly or he or she may feel that you wouldn’t be fair. Rather than dwelling on the fact that you have been sued, take that time to gather your documents, records of attempted reconciliation (if any), and other papers that will support your case. You may also consider counter-suing the plaintiff in small claims court California if you feel they owe you money or have wronged you.

Small claims court California exists to help you whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant. If you have concerns about preparing for your court date, consider enlisting the services of Small Claims Department is your one-stop solution for handling small claims in California. Their years of industry knowledge and personable staff will guide you through the process and make you ready for courtroom success.

5/22/2010 12:40:30 PM

The California Small Claims Court has rules on how many claims and for what amounts one can file. Individuals can file for as much as $7,500.00. However, an individual can only file two cases per year for over $2,500.00 up to $7,500.00. For example, an individual can file one case for $5,000.00 and another for $7,500.00 in a calendar year. After that, this same individual can file as many cases as he/she wants for $2,500.00 or under. We have many clients who will file hundreds of cases per year claiming just under this mark.

Corporations, LLP's, LLC's and Partnerships can claim as much as $5,000.00. They are limited,however, to two cases per calendar year of over $2,500.00 up to $5,000.00. All other cases filed in the same calendar year must be $2,500.00 or under. assists individuals and companies in all aspects of California Small Claims; anywhere from preparing,filing and serving your claim to assisting with post judgment collection.
5/14/2010 11:58:31 PM

Although many different types of cases are tried in courts across California every year, they all have one thing in common - a person or business entity has been wronged and the justice system has been asked to step in to resolve the issue. California small claims are no exception.

An injustice does not need to be a headline grabbing offence. Major cases with payouts running into the millions, in fact, are not settled in California small claims. They are part of a different legal process entirely. Small claims court is reserved for disputes that can be settled swiftly and inexpensively.

The word “inexpensive” is not one usually associated with any type of legal proceeding. That is because we are used to hearing about pricey celebrity lawyers representing wealthy clientele, court cases that drag on for years, and endless appeals along with their associated costs. California small claims differs in the facts that no lawyers are present in the courtroom and court dates are set and carried out as quickly as possible. While California small claims decisions may be appealed, strict procedures keep the appeal process from getting out of hand.

Typical reasons for initiating a small claim are: default on rent, property not returned to the rightful owner or goods damaged by negligence. When things like this happen it is a good idea to first try and resolve the issue, if it is safe to do so, with the other party. For example, if your tenant has not paid rent, it is important to ensure you ask him or her for the rent money and document the conversation prior to filing a claim. Rule out the possibility of someone simply forgetting the rent due date or not noticing they damaged your property. If your attempts are unsuccessful, small claims court is available to ensure you are rightfully compensated.

While California small claims does not carry the drama of a high profile courtroom, one must still be prepared and follow procedure to have their claim successfully heard. The process is not difficult, but it can be time consuming. Californians have the option of outsourcing the paperwork to companies like Small Claims

The advantage of using an outsourcing service is that these reputable companies have years of experience in filling out the required paperwork and filing the documents in the correct location. Like hiring a chef for a perfect meal or a personal organizer to whip your home into shape, companies like Small Claims specialize in one area of expertise. In their case, that area is California small claims.

Becoming involved with California small claims as the plaintiff or the defendant means being involved in a fair, accessible legal system that Californians can be proud of. Whether you need help forcing a loan repayment or need compensation for the dress the drycleaner ruined, California small claims is available to help you.

4/20/2010 1:32:27 AM

It’s frustrating when the local retailer won’t let you return the defective consumer product you bought a few days back or you are mistreated by the property owner on a rent deposit issue. Disputes and disagreements of these sorts are handled by small claims courts. For typical civil suits, you have to put a lot of money at stake and the process may take months, if not years. On the contrary, when you file small claims, you may be able to obtain a legally enforceable judgment to force the person you are suing to pay you.

Filing small claims can be a stressful experience. You may be put off by the whole idea of filling lengthy forms or submitting them in long queues!

Why Choose Small Claims Department to File Small Claims in California:-

We make filing small claims cases easy for the residents of California. You don’t have to stand in never-ending queues. All you have to do is fill online forms from the comfort of your home or office.

Who We are and What We Do:

  • With over 15 years of experience and over 3,000 cases filed, our legal clerks have a better idea of the legal baffle-front of the small claims courts. To file small claims with us, you don’t have to spend a fortune. We provide small claims packages that include the initial Filing, Service of Process of all Defendants and Filing of the Proof of Service(s) at affordable prices. For the multi-filers, things can get even better- you may be eligible to receive discount!

  • From filing complaints in all the 58 counties in California to posting judgment services, Small Claims Department takes the stress out of the equation. Our professional staff assists individuals, large, and small businesses in filing small claims without any hassle. Your claim will be drafted, filed, and served by our statewide court personnel. You will then receive the Proof of Service and related documents to prepare for the subsequent hearing of your small claims.

  • We also provide ancillary small claims court filings that include Request for Dismissal, Request for Continuance, Defendants Claims, Motion to Vacate Judgment, Notice of Appeals.

  • We file small claims court case anywhere in California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, San Bernardino, Fresno, and San Francisco. Small Claims Department will find the right State Agents and venues for you, at absolutely no cost!

  • If you are seeking post judgment remedies for Bank Levies, Wage Garnishments, Filing of Writ of Executions or Judgment Debtor Examinations, Small Claims Department is the right company to outsource your claims. You can email or call our professional legal staff to receive up-to-date status, once you file small claims with our help.

Small Claims Department helps you file small claims promptly so that you can spend more time on what’s important to you. You just need to show up in the California small claims court during the hearing of your case and win your suit!

Contact us now to file your small claims suit anywhere in California.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this site is not legal advice, but general information on legal issues commonly encountered in the Small Claims process.’s Legal Document Service is not a law firm and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. cannot provide legal advice and can only provide self-help services at your specific direction.