Table of Contents:
- How to File in Small Claims Court in Memphis, Tennessee
- How to File in Small Claims Court in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- How to File in Small Claims Court in Knoxville, Tennessee
- How to File in Small Claims Court in New Jersey
- How to File Small Claims in Virginia
- How to File a Small Claims Suit in California
- How to File a Small Claims Case in Ohio
- How to File a Small Claims Suit in New York
Small claims court in Memphis, Tennessee is also called the Shelby County General Sessions Court, Civil Division, Memphis, Main Office. To file a case in Shelby County Sessions Civil, fill in the form Statement of Claim, give it to the clerk and pay the filing fee.
Small Claims Court Memphis Tn
Don't be worried if you can't find a small claims court listed for Memphis, Tennessee. In Tennessee, the small claims court is called General Sessions Civil Division, and the courts are organized by county, not city. You'll find what you are looking for under Shelby County Sessions Civil Division, Memphis, Main Office.
Shelby County has some other surprises for you if you are used to small claims courts in other states. First, you can sue for up to $25,000, much higher than many states' limits. Second, unlike many states, attorneys are allowed to appear and present a case for a small claims party in Memphis. And if attorney fees are part of the contract you are suing on, you can claim them in your case.
How to File in Shelby County Civil Court, Small Claims
You start a case in Shelby County Civil, Memphis, if you are 19 years or older, by obtaining a form called Statement of Claim. You are the plaintiff, and the person you are suing is the defendant. Insert both of your names and addresses. You'll need a separate form for each defendant.
You must also fill in a statement regarding how much money the defendant owes you. Then, tate any costs or attorney fees owed to you.
After that, you or your attorney sign and date the statement. Give it to the court clerk at Shelby County Civil Court in Memphis, and pay the filing fee. The filing fee depends on how much you are claiming, how many defendants you are suing and if you want other services, such as a writ of garnishment, service by certified mail (if the defendant's address is a P.O. Box or out of stat ) or subpoenas.
Next Steps in Memphis Civil Court Small Claims
Once you file your statement in Memphis, the clerk stamps it with a case number and sends it to the sheriff for personal service or out for service by certified mail. The defendant has 14 days after service (after he gets the copy of the statement) to file a response. If he does, the court assigns a hearing date, and all parties appear with their evidence and witnesses.
The hearing before the court is informal. After hearing all the evidence, the court makes a decision. You get a copy in the mail, and either party can appeal.
Obtain a Civil Complaint form. Write "Lancaster" for the "County Of:" line. In the box under this line, write "02" (the magisterial district number for Lancaster), and write the court's address:
Court of Common Pleas County of Lancaster 50 N. Duke St., PO Box 83480 Lancaster, PA 17608-3480
Write your name and address in the "Plaintiff" box. Write the name and address of the person you are suing in the "Defendant" box. Leave the "Docket No." and "Date Filed" boxes empty; these are filled in by the clerk.
Write the amount you are suing for on the line next to the "$" symbol in the "TO THE DEFENDANT" section. Beneath this, list the facts of the case. Sign and date the form.
Send the completed form by mail to the address listed in Step 1. Send a copy of the completed form to the defendant (or hand deliver the form to the defendant) to provide the person you are suing with notice of the action. Note that if you do not notify the defendant about the lawsuit, the case may be dismissed. Include the filing fee with your form; contact the court at 717-299-8000 to inquire about current fees.
The Knox County General Sessions Court hears all civil claims for amounts less than $25,000 arising in Knox County, Tennessee. The civil division of the General Sessions Court is located at the City County Building, 400 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Knoxville, TN 37902.
Step 1: Write Your Complaint
Under the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure the first step in any small claims action is filing a document called a Complaint with the clerk of the court. This document has to set forth two things:
- A short, clear explanation of the facts showing that the person whom you are suing did something that violated the law and caused you harm
- A demand for judgment against the person or company you are suing.
Small claims filings are governed by state law, not city or county ordinance, so the rules for filing a small claim are the same in all counties and cities in the state.
Step 2: Prepare A Summons
A summons is a legal document that notifies the person or company you are suing that they have to come to court and answer your complaint. This document must be signed by the clerk of court and must be set out in the form required by the county court clerk, which is available for free online.
Step 3: Serve The Summons
"Service" means official delivery of the summons and complaint to the person you are suing, or to someone authorized to accept the service on their behalf. Under Tennessee law, a summons and complaint may be hand-delivered by anyone who is not a party to the case and is 18 or older. This means that you can not serve a summons yourself if you are the plaintiff , but you can ask any friend who is not involved in the case to do it for you. The person who serves a summons must then fill out a "return" of service that identifies the person to whom the complaint was delivered and the name and address of the person who served the complaint.
Under Tennessee law, claims for personal injuries are subject to a one-year statute of limitations, which means you must bring your case to court within a year of the date your injury occurred. Other kinds of claims have different time limits.
Qualify under the claim limits of the court. New Jersey law allows a plaintiff (the party bringing the suit) to file an action in small claims court where the disputed amount is $3,000 or less. That limit goes up to $5,000 if the plaintiff is suing over a security deposit. However, any claim involving professional malpractice, probate or a family law matter cannot be heard in small claims court even if the amount in dispute falls within the monetary limits.
Meet the filing requirements. To file a petition in small claims court, a plaintiff must be at least 18; if a plaintiff is under 18, the petition must be filed by a parent or guardian. A small claims case must be filed in the county in which the defendant resides or is located (if a business). For multiple defendants located in different counties, the plaintiff can choose any county in which any one defendant is located. If no defendant is located in New Jersey, the petition must be filed in the county in which the dispute took place.
Prepare the complaint. You can visit the clerk of the Office of the Special Civil Part, located in the county courthouse, to get a small claims packet, which includes all the information you need to file a complaint, including instructions about filing a summons and a complaint. The complaint must include the following information: your name and contact information; the names and contact information of all defendants (if known); the amount of money you are claiming; a statement indicating the reasons you believe the money is owed to you; and whether there is any other case involving you and the defendant or defendants.
File the petition with the clerk of the small claims court. You must sign the petition and pay the appropriate filing fee. If the case involves a single defendant, the fee is $15; for multiple defendants, there is an additional $2 fee for each one. You will also have to pay a $7 fee to have an official copy of the petition served on each defendant. If you are unable to afford these fees, you can ask the court to waive them.
For claims in Virginia involving disputes valued at $5,000 or less, small claims court is available. Virginia small claims courts provide a forum for litigants to receive justice in an expeditious manner while not requiring all of the formalities of other types of cases. A plaintiff must follow certain rules to get his case before a judge and to establish that the court has jurisdiction over the case.
Determine the Defendant's Address
Find out where the defendant lives and works. This information may be on a check that he sent you, in public records or available by asking an acquaintance. This information is necessary for the forms you will need to complete and to have the defendant served. Also, the Virginia court in the city or county where the defendant lives or works has proper jurisdiction over the case.
Get the Necessary Forms
Ask the court clerk for the forms that you need. Virginia's judicial system's website lists all of the district courts in the state to help you locate the appropriate court clerk's office. Alternatively, you can download the forms on Virginia's court system's website. A warrant in debt form is necessary if you are seeking a money judgment while a warrant in detinue form is necessary if you are seeking possession of a piece of property that you believe is wrongly being withheld from you.
Complete the Forms
Fill out all pertinent information on the forms, including the plaintiff and defendant's names and addresses, the reason for the claim and the name of the court. Read all instructions that accompany the forms. You will fill out different sections for the judge, process server and court clerk. These sections are designated as such on the forms. The warrant in debt form must specify the amount of the debt that you claim the defendant owes you while a warrant in detinue form must include a specific description of the property that you are seeking. Make two copies of every form. The clerk completes her portion of the warrant form, which indicates the date of the trial.
Pay any necessary filing fees. Calculate estimated filing fees on this website. In most jurisdictions in Virginia, the fee for the sheriff's department to serve the defendant is $12. Pay the fees by cash, money order or cashier's check.
Serve the Defendant
Give a private process server a copy of the forms you filed with the clerk if you do not want the sheriff to serve the defendant. If you paid for the sheriff to serve, the clerk forwards the paperwork to the sheriff's department. The server completes a form showing that the defendant was served. Send this form to the clerk's office to document that proper service was executed on the defendant.
Virginia law does not allow you to have an attorney with you in small claims court. However, an attorney can provide you with advice on your case or presenting your case outside the courtroom. Also, an attorney can have the case removed from small claims court to the general district court before the judge reaches a decision in the case.
You can resolve some disputes quickly and informally in small claims court. In California, you may do so if you are at least 18 or an emancipated minor, and the amount you are seeking is $10,000 or less. The limit is $5,000 when the plaintiff is a business and $7,500 for damages for personal injury or property from a car accident. Common types of small claims cases include failure to satisfy the terms of a contract, repay a loan or make repairs properly. California has specific requirements for filing small claims lawsuits. Follow each carefully to avoid having your case dismissed.
Naming the Appropriate Party
Name the defendant carefully. If you sue the wrong person, you may lose the case or be unable to collect a judgment. If you are suing a store manager for lost wages, for example, he might have simply followed directives from the corporate office, which may absolve him of blame. If you haven't named the proper corporate parties as defendants, you may have a problem collecting your money if the judge rules in your favor.
Ask the defendant for payment before you file suit. You can do this in person, by phone or in writing. Use the California Courts' website, which provides sample demand letters. Your letter should be brief. State the amount you're requesting and why, and your intention to take the matter to court if the other party refuses to pay. Use firm wording. If you do end up in court, produce the letter as evidence.
Carefully choose the court in which you file suit. Each county court deals with specific issues, and your case could be dismissed if you file in the wrong place. Generally, you must file in the district where the other party resides or does business, or where the event leading to the case occurred, but these requirements can vary depending on the case. If your case is the result of an accident, for example, file it where the event happened or where the defendant lives. If you're suing your credit card company, file in the county where you signed the contract or where you lived when you signed it. A small claims legal adviser can help you choose the right court for your case. This service is free. California does not allow lawyers in small claims courts, so you must represent yourself.
File the Necessary Forms
You must complete several forms to initiate your case once you have determined the right court. These include:
Form SC 100 for plaintiff's claim
Form SC-100A for each additional plaintiff
- Form MC-030 for additional space for your statements or witness statements
- Form SC-103 for Fictitious Business Name declaration if you are a business
- Form SC-100-Info, guide for plaintiffs on how to proceed with the forms
The court may require additional forms, such as the "Plaintiff's Statement to Clerk," on which you describe the charges against the defendant. This form may be available on the court's website or by mail, depending on the court. A small claims legal adviser can examine your forms to ensure you have accurately completed the right ones.
File a Claim
Submit the forms and the required filing fee to the court clerk. The filing fee depends on the amount you are seeking. The clerk will give you a hearing date and copies of the forms.
Serve Your Claim
The other party must receive notice of the case and copies of the forms you have filed. Commonly accepted forms of service for all cases include service by a third party not involved in the case and service by certified or registered mail. File a Proof of Service within five days of the hearing as evidence that each defendant has been served. The California Courts website provides more information on the service process. Gather any necessary evidence and contact witnesses to prepare for your case.
Small claims courts in Ohio handle legal disputes involving unpaid bills or wages, defective products, accidents and other minor claims. You can only file your case in small claims court if the amount you're asking for is $3,000 or less plus interest and expenses, and if you're not asking for anything other than money. Small claims courts also cannot handle any case involving punitive damages or libel, or any claim against the state or federal government.
Pick a Court
When you decide to file a small claims case, the first step is to figure out which court to file in. Each small claims court has jurisdiction over a particular area. You can either file in the area where the defendant is located or the area where the incident that provoked your suit occurred.
For instance, if you're filing for damages from a minor car accident in Cleveland, you can file in the Cleveland Municipal Court or in the court for the town where the defendant lives.
If you're suing more than one defendant at the same time, only one of them has to live in the area for the court to have jurisdiction. If you're suing a business, pick your court based on the business address.
Call the Court
Even though the rules for small claims court are governed by Ohio state law rather than by city ordinances, Chapter 1925 of the Ohio Code gives each court the right to set its own procedures. In effect, this means that every small claims court in Ohio may have different rules and different court costs, so call the court where you intend to file before you go there and ask what you need to bring to file a small claims case.
Get Everything Together
Make sure you have everything the court needs before you file your claim. For instance, if you're filing in Cleveland you'll need the name and address of every defendant, the evidence that your claim is valid, any receipts or written estimates that support your suit and, as of publication, the $37 filing fee for the first defendant plus $7 per additional defendant. The court won't ask you for the evidence when you file, but requests that you have it ready anyway.
If you're filing in another court, you may be asked to bring a slightly different list of items. However, most courts will request the filing fee, witness list with addresses, list of evidence you intend to present and the name, address and phone number of each defendant. If you're suing a business, you can get all the information for the business by calling the Ohio Secretary of State at 877-767-6446.
It's important to bring everything the court asks for, but the single most important item is the defendant's correct legal name and contact information. If the court can't serve a summons on the defendant, your case cannot be heard.
File the Case
Once you have everything you need to file your case, go to the court and request a small claims form or download one from the court's website and bring it in with all of your other materials.
When you're filling out your form, remember that you must request interest, court costs and enforcement costs to be added to your claim or you won't receive them.
Small claims courts in New York handle cases with $5,000 or less at stake. These courts operate according to state laws, so the process is uniform wherever you are within its borders. Common small claims cases include a failure to repay a loan, honor the terms of a service contract and fix an item.
Eligibility to File
You can file a small claims suit in a New York if you are 18 or older and the amount requested is under the state limits. Younger individuals must have a parent or guardian file on their behalf. An individual may file suit against other individuals, corporations, associations or partnerships.
Filing a Suit
Bring the case to a Small Claims Court in the county where you or the defendant lives, works or has a business. File a statement of claim in the court clerk's office. On this form, briefly explain the reason for the case, state the amount you are requesting and provide the defendant's name and address. Provide the correct name and address to help avoid delays and reduce the possibility that the case will be dismissed. If you are not sure of a company's proper name, get a copy of its certificate of doing business from the county clerk's office and have it with you on the day of the trial. You also can file your case electronically through third party companies, such as nCourt and Intresys TurboCourt.
Paying Court Fees
Pay for the court filing with cash, a bank or cashier's check, or a money order. New York's Small Claims courts do not accept personal checks. Address checks to "Clerk of the Civil Court." As of this writing, the filing fee is $15 for claims up to $1,000 and $20 for claims from $1,001 to $5,000. The clerk will set a court date when you submit the filing.
Serving the Defendant
The clerk of the court will mail two notifications of the case to the defendant - one by regular mail and the other by certified mail. The court assumes the defendant received notice of the proceedings if the notice sent by regular mail is not returned within 21 days. The court will allow you to arrange delivery of the notice if the post office cannot deliver it. You must choose a third party who is 18 or older and not involved in the case. Your case will be canceled if the notice is not delivered within four months.