If I did a job for acompany and have gotten the runaround regarding payment, what doI have to do to take it to small claims court?

UPDATED: Feb 24, 2012

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If I did a job for acompany and have gotten the runaround regarding payment, what doI have to do to take it to small claims court?

My business did a job for a company ans was supposed to get paid that day; 12 days ago. One of the owners showed up and signed out work order. They asked if they could mail us a check. We never received a check. We tried contacting them the first week we did not receive the check, they would not answer our calls or email. She finally called us back and said the check had cleared her bank. We never received it to cash it. She admitted to sending it to the wrong address and only putting my first name in the check. She said she was looking into it. We waited another week and emailed her requesting that she send us a check that we felt for her that the check was cashed by someone else but we did not feel this was our error. she told us to take her to collections and not to contact her anymore. We are a very small business and have no idea which route to take. Can we take her to small claims court and how do we do that?

Asked on February 24, 2012 under Business Law, Colorado


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your lawsuit in Small Claims Court would be for breach of contract / account stated.  Obtain the forms from Small Claims Court you will need to complete in order to file your lawsuit.  There may be a Small Claims Court advisor, who can assist you if you have questions on procedures, completing the forms, etc.  File the completed forms with the court and pay a filing fee.  The court will set a date for a hearing.  You must serve the summons and complaint (complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons) on the defendant (the company that owes you money).  Have a process server, serve the documents on the defendant.  Process servers are listed under attorney services in the Yellow Pages or online.  Use a process server in the same city or if not possible located near the city where the company is located to reduce the costs of the process server.  Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit) would be the amount you are owed plus court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.  Use a process server.  Don't use the marshal as a process server because the marshal will make a limited number of attempts to serve the defendant and if unsuccessful will keep the fee.  Don't serve the defendant by certified mail because they won't pick up the mail.  The defendant has to be served a certain number of days before the hearing.  The number of days varies from state to state.  The court clerk or the Small  Claims Court advisor can tell you how many days before the hearing the defendant has to be served.  When you get the proof of service back from the process server that the defendant has been served, file it with the court or you can ask the process server to file it with the court for you.

If you go to collections instead of Small Claims Court, the collection agency will keep a percentage of the amount it recovers, which is why Small Claims Court would be a preferable alternative.

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