What if a small claims suit is simply outrageous?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What if a small claims suit is simply outrageous?

I sold 2 PCs to a client. Price was 125 each. They were sold as is,
they were both sold running and usable. Because it was a client and not
just a typical buyer I offered to transfer data from their old PCs to
the new. I spent 8 hours but had to schedule another time to complete
the process. Finding a mutually agreeable time became difficult. Now the
client is suing me for 1500.00 in small claims court. Should I seek a
dismissal or attempt to have mediation?

Asked on October 2, 2016 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can seek dismissal, but in small claims court, must generally do so the day of the trial (there is no motion practice in small claims court): you can make a motion in front of the judge for dismissal on the grounds that they have not stated a legally recoginzable claim (that is alleged an injury for which you are legally responsible). And you will have a chance to mediate--small claims courts have the parties attempt to mediate the claim in court, before it goes to trial, and at that time, you can state your reasons for believing there is no legally valid claim: the mediator may agree, and may help the other side see that they should volutarily drop or dismiss the claim.
However, bear in mind that it is possible that they can show that there IS a valid claim: if you promised to migrate the data as part of the offer inducing them to buy from you and you have not done so, they may be able to state a claim against you for breach of contract (violation of the agreement, even if only an oral one, between the two of you as to what you'd provide) and/or fraud (lying about what you could or would do in order to get them to buy). The $1,500 claim is likely excessive unless they can show that they suffered a $1,500 loss causally linked to your actions--e.g. they had pay $1,500 for hardware, software, and/or tech support to get up and running with their computer(s) because you did not do what you promised--but even if the amount is excessive, that does not mean that the claim is not valid; it may just mean that the can't get as much money as they'd like in the lawsuit (e.g. they might only get $250, or the price back for the computers).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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