I am thinking about taking TU to small claims, what the heck! * Rob * Small Claims Info for NY --> ==================================== WHAT IS THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT? The Small Claims Court is an informal court where individuals can sue for money only, up to $3,000.00 without a lawyer. For example, if you feel that a person or business damaged something you own, you may sue that person or business for the monetary amount of your damages. You also may sue a person or business for money damages arising out of false advertising or other deceptive practices. You cannot, however, sue in Small Claims Court to compel that person in an advertisement; your lawsuit can be only for money. Most Small Claims Courts have a clerk who can assist you with the procedures for bringing your lawsuit. In those Town or Village Courts that do not have clerks, the judge may assist you. When this booklet mentions the clerk, and the court you are using does not have a clerk, you should seek the assistance of the judge. WHO CAN USE THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT? Anyone over 18 years of age can bring an action in Small Claims Court. If you are younger than 18, your parent or guardian may file the claim for you. Corporations, partnerships, associations, or assignees cannot sue in Small Claims Court, but they can be sued. If you sue in Small Claims Court, you are the claimant (plaintiff); if you have been sued, you are the defendant. You can sue more than one defendant in the same case if necessary. If you are sued, and you believe that a third party is responsible for the claim, you may be able to bring that party into the lawsuit as a defendant. Contact the clerk of the Small Claims Court for information about a "third-party action." A corporation may authorize an attorney, officer, director, or employee of the corporation to appear to defend a claim. If you choose, you may be represented by an attorney at your own expense, but it is not necessary to have an attorney since Small Claims Court is meant to be a "people's court" where claims may be tried speedily, informally, and inexpensively. The defendant has the same choice. If there are attorneys on both sides, the case may be transferred to a regular part of the court. WHERE ARE THE SMALL CLAIMS COURTS LOCATED? There is at least one Small Claims Court in each of the 62 counties in New York State, including at least one in each of the five boroughs of New York City. In the City of New York, the Small Claims Court is part of the Civil Court of the of the City New York. In Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the District Courts have Small Claims Parts. All city courts have a Small Claims Part. Town and Village Courts, with the exception of those located in Nassau County, handle Small Claims in the municipalities where they are located. Consult your telephone book for the address and phone number of your local court for information. HOW DO I START A SMALL CLAIMS CASE? You or someone on your behalf, must come to the Small Claims Court to file a statement of your claim. You should be prepared to give a brief statement of the facts that form the basis of your claim. Check any documents relating to your case for the relevant dates and names. If you are suing on a contract or for property damage, you may claim interest as well as damages. You must sue in a court having Small Claims Part in an area where the defendant lives or works or has a place of business. You will be required to pay filing fee of $10.00 if your claim is for $1,000 or less and a filing fee of $15.00 if your claim is for more than $1,000. When the claim is filed, the clerk will tell you when the case will be tried. The clerk will then send the notice of claim to the defendant by both certified mail and ordinary first class mail. The notice of claim tells the defendant when the case will be tried and gives a brief statement of your claim and the amount of money you are seeking. If the copy of the claim sent by ordinary mail is not returned as undeliverable within 21 days, the defendant is presumed to have received notice even if the claim sent by certified mail has not been delivered. If the notice is not delivered by the post office, the court will set a new trial date and tell you how to arrange for personal service of the notice of claim on the defendant. Personal service may be made by any person (including a friend or a relative) who is 18 years of age or older, except that you or any other party to the action may not serve the notice of claim. If the service of the notice cannot be made upon the defendant within four months of the date when the action was first started, the action will be dismissed without prejudice to your bringing the action at a later time. A Small claims case will not proceed to trial until the defendant has been served with a notice of claim. MUST I KNOW THE DEFENDANT'S CORRECT NAME ? When filing a Small Claims case, the claimant must provide the name and address of the person or business being used. If you do not know the correct legal name of the defendant, you can sue using any name under which the defendant does business. However, you should go to the office of the County Clerk in the county where the business is located to find out who owns the business and the legal name of the business. The County Clerk's office keeps a record of the names under which businesses are operated. If you discover the defendant's correct "legal" name before the trial date, return to the Small Claims Court and have the case papers changed to state the correct name of the defendant.