How do I sue a business in small claims court in another state?

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How do I sue a business in small claims court in another state?

Do I have to go there to present my case?

Asked on June 26, 2012 under General Practice, California

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A lawsuit can be filed where the plaintiff resides or where the defendant resides or where the claim arose.

The problem however is that in CA, you can't file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court and serve the defendant in another state unless the case involves an auto accident or a property dispute.  If the case does not involve an auto accident or property dispute and is filed in CA Small Claims Court, the defendant has to be served in CA.  If the company in your case is doing business in CA, it should have an agent for service of process in CA whom you could serve.  You can find the agent for service of process by checking with the  CA Secretary of State's office.

If the company does not have an agent for service of process in CA and your case does not involve an auto accident or property dispute, if you want to file in Small Claims Court, you will need to file in the state where the company is located.  If the out of state Small Claims Court allows you to make a telephone appearance at the hearing, you won't need to be physically present at the hearing.  The out of state Small Claims Court may or may not allow you to make a telephone appearance.  You will need to contact the court clerk in the other state's Small Claims Court to inquire about that and the documents you will need to file to request a telephone appearance and how far in advance of the hearing your request for a telephone appearance must be filed.  Don't miss the deadline or the request for a telephone appearance will be denied.


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