How to handle a breach of contract lawsuit in small claims court?

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How to handle a breach of contract lawsuit in small claims court?

Filed for a civil law suit on the grounds of breach of contract. This lady bought a pet store from my nephew and myself, which she originated the contract herself to her needs. After not receiving any payments as agreed by all 3 parties, she abandoned the place after 3 months and now we are going to court in 08/10. What advice can you give me to prepare myself for? She hired an attorney even though I filed through a small claims court. What do you recommend?

Asked on July 18, 2010 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you're not going to get an attorney yourself, the main things are:

1) Triple check that you've followed all the instructions, filed out all the forms, served (i.e. sent) everything properly and on time--you don't want to lose because of a "technicality" or procedural rule.

2) Get ALL your evidence sorted out, organized, and multiply copied (so you can retain a copy while providing one to the court, for example). Contract of sale, all correspondence, any payments you did receive, notes of all phone calls, etc. Make sure you have it all.

3) Practice your presentation. If the judge can't understand the situation, he's not likely to rule for  you. Make sure you can calmly, succienctly, but also comprehensively cover everything, with reference to specific dates, contracts, terms, etc. as appropriate. Practice until you can describe the case with no stumbling or hesitation, in a way that a listener gets it immediately.

4) Show up early--if you miss the calendar call, your case will be dismissed.

5) Think about the minimum you'd settle for. The court may encourage you and the woman to try to work it out one last time, so be prepared with your "last, best offer" so you know what you'd consider acceptable.

Good luck.


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