What is the procedure for filing in small claims court against a business owner when I’m an out of state business owner?

UPDATED: Mar 9, 2012

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What is the procedure for filing in small claims court against a business owner when I’m an out of state business owner?

I’m a business owner who is owed $12,000 from a company that placed orders months ago but which has not paid. I already sent them a letter of demand last month. Rather than go after the company as a whole, I’d like to name the business owner as the defendant.

Asked on March 9, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A lawsuit can be filed where the plaintiff resides or where the defendant resides  or where the claim arose.  The maximum amount for which you can file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court varies from state to state.  It would be advisable to check on the maximum amount in the state in which you file your lawsuit because $12,000 may exceed the amount recoverable in Small Claims Court.  If it does, you will need to file in a higher court such as Municipal.  Your state may have a different name for Municipal Court.

For convenience purposes such as a court appearance and filing documents with the court, it would be advisable to file your lawsuit in your state.  It would be advisable to name both the business and the owner as defendants.  After you file your lawsuit for breach of contract/account stated with the court, you will need to have the summons and complaint served on the defendants.  The complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons.  You can have a process server located in or near the city where the defendant (s) is/are located  serve the summons and complaint.  You can find process servers listed under attorney services in the Yellow Pages or online.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) should include the amount you are owed plus court costs.  Court costs include the court filing fee and process server fee.  After the defendants have been served, file a copy of the proof of service you receive from the process server with the court.  

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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