Small Claims Court California
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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

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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.