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Can I sue someone who owes me money in California? – Small Claims Court (California Code of Civil Procedure)

Posted by Raoul Severo | Nov 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

Can you sue someone who owes you money?

One does not automatically get involved with lending companies or loan sharks when planning to borrow a relatively small amount of money from someone. These types of business are considered small claims transactions. Most of the time, deals like these do not even have formal arrangements, nor does it involve interventions from the law. Because of the nature of small claims, conflicts are inevitable. One of the most common small claims issues is revolving around small scale debts. To answer the initial question, yes. You can sue someone who owes you money in a small claims court.

Small Claims Court

Private disputes that do not involve a large amount of money, in this case, small debt collections, are settled in small claims courts. Small claims court typically has jurisdiction over quickly resolvable and generally inexpensive issues. The rules and regulations under this court are more simplified compared to higher courts, such as Drug courts or Mental Health courts

Claims sent to small claims courts are limited to disputes up to five thousand dollars ($5,000). However, most, if not all, the cases usually involve more small amounts.

In general, in a claim, a natural person (an individual) cannot request more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Businesses and other companies should not apply for more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) (like government entities). This limit shall not extend to sole proprietors who are regarded as natural persons in respect of corporations or up to two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) each, a person can file as many claims as he/she wants. But in a calendar year, a plaintiff can only file two (2) lawsuits that ask for more than thousand five hundred dollars $2,500.

California Code of Civil Procedure CCP 116.220

CCP 116.220 covers the scopes that small claims courts have jurisdiction over.

The small claims court has jurisdiction in the following actions:

  • For recovery of money, if the amount of the demand does not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000);
  • To enforce payment of delinquent unsecured personal property taxes in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), if the defendant does not contest the legality of the tax;
  • To issue the writ of possession authorized by Sections 1861.5 and 1861.10 of the Civil Code if the amount of the demand does not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000);
  • To confirm, correct, or vacate a fee arbitration award not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) between an attorney and client that is binding or has become critical, or to conduct a hearing de novo between an attorney and client after nonbinding arbitration of a fee dispute involving no more than five thousand dollars ($5,000); or
  • For an injunction or other equitable relief only when a statute expressly authorizes a small claims court to award that relief.

The small claims court has jurisdiction over a defendant guarantor as follows:

  • For any action brought by a natural person against the Registrar of the Contractors' State License Board as the defendant guarantor;
  • For any action against a defendant guarantor that does not charge a fee for its guarantor or surety services, if the amount of the demand does not exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500);
  • For any action brought by a natural person against a defendant guarantor that charges a fee for its guarantor or surety services, if the amount of the demand does not exceed six thousand five hundred dollars ($6,500); or
  • For any action brought by an entity other than a natural person against a defendant guarantor that charges a fee for its guarantor or surety services or against the Registrar of the Contractors' State License Board as the defendant guarantor, if the amount of the demand does not exceed four thousand dollars ($4,000).

Legal Support

Small claims disputes are more nuanced than how people usually perceive it to be. When facing small claims conflicts, either as a plaintiff or defendant, it would be best to seek legal representation. Please don't hesitate to contact the Law Office Of Raoul Severo to know more about this law and what it entails.

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