Can I appeal a settlement claim that was awarded to me in small claims?

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Can I appeal a settlement claim that was awarded to me in small claims?

I sued a mechanic in small claims. I paid him $450 for a transmission but 2 weeks after the work was done it went out. In court the defendant didn’t show; the judge heard my case and awarded me $500. Then 2 hours later I got a phone call from the judge. She told me that she thought about it and that the amount she awarded wasn’t fair to the defendant, so she told me to gather three estimates for repair. I got the estimates to replace the seal $350-$400 and to replace the transmission $1,000. She mailed my judgement for $150 Can I appeal? Is what she did legal? What are my options?

Asked on June 8, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, North Carolina

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Doesn't sound correct. Unless the judge said her ruling was conditional, what she did was illegal and could be considered ex parte communications. You need to immediately call the chief judge (or walk in and demand to speak with the chief judge for that court), explain what occurred and see what could occur. Simultaneously file a complaint with the State Bar Association of North Carolina. Do some research and see if this judge uses this mechanic or perhaps is friends with the mechanic or something similar. I had this happen to me with legal representation and I informed the lawyer that once that attorney attempted to drop me as a client solely because of her friendship with the opposing party (after she disclosed this and then represented me with private communications being given to her) that it was an ethical and legal violation and I would report her to the State Bar. She quickly changed her mind.


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