What follows is a brief but informative summary of rules, procedures, and filings requirements for small claims court in New York.
Keep in mind that rules and laws change. It’s always a good idea to confirm the rules with the court or with further research.
Maximum Jurisdictional Dollar Amount: The maximum dollar amount is $5,000. However, Justice Court (upstate town and village courts) have a limit of $3,000.
Where Suit May Be Brought: Case may be brought where the defendant resides, is employed or maintains a business office.
Proper Manner of Service of Process upon Defendant: Service may be made by certified or registered mail. If after 21 days the certified letter is not returned as undeliverable, then service is presumed. If mail service is not available, personal delivery upon the defendant must be made.
How the Hearing Date Is Selected: The hearing date is set by the court.
Attorney Representation Rule: Attorneys are allowed and are required for most corporations.
Special Provisions Regarding Transfer or Jurisdiction of Cases: Within court’s discretion to appropriate court.
Availability of Appeals: By defendant only for review of law, not facts or by plaintiff if “substantial justice” was not done; to County Court or Appellate Terms within 30 days.
Special Rules and Notes: In some courts, only individuals can bring suits. In other courts, partnerships may bring suit, but corporations and LLCs cannot bring suit. Check the local court for rules. In New York City, Small Claims cases are heard in City Civil Court; in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in District Court, except 1st District, in other cities in City Court. In rural areas, cases are heard in Justice Court. No injunctive relief is available in small claims court. Non-appealable arbitration is available. Corporations and partnerships may not sue. Right to sue may not be transferred. Jury trial is available to defendant. Defendant must file affidavit stating the issues that require a jury trial. Business judgment-debtors must pay within 35 days of the entry of judgment or $100 may be added to the judgment. Businesses that fail to pay judgments may face a refusal of renewal of grant of business license from state authorities. No counterclaims are allowed in Small Claims unless within the dollar limit.
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Michael Spadaccini is the author of 8 books on self-help legal matters such as, Ultimate LLC Compliance Guide: Covers All 50 States (Ultimate Series), Ultimate Book of Forming Corps, LLCs, Partnerships & Sole Proprietorships, and Ultimate Guide to Forming an LLC in Any State, Second Edition (Ultimate Series).
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