Superior Court vs. Small Claims

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Superior Court vs. Small Claims

Post  mcarson on Sat Sep 26, 2009 5:12 am

I know there are a few attorneys that post here. Would it be permissible and how difficult would it be for a layperson, whom is unfamiliar with court proceedings, to bring a case to the civil division of the superior court pro se rather than going through small claims? I am hesitant to go through small claims court as I understand the cases are not always heard by judes and they many times are not well versed on CA labor laws.
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Re: Superior Court vs. Small Claims

Post  Endeavor on Sat Sep 26, 2009 5:01 pm

Well, first, small claims is for cases with a value of $7500 or less, so unless you have fixed damages, you probably don't want to go to small claims. I highly discourage going pro se. The rules of court, discovery rules, local rules, etc. can be confusing even for attorneys. However, if you don't think the case is too complicated, or there will be limited discovery, you can probably get by pro se. Judges also tend to be a bit more lenient with pro se litigants. Read up on the Rutter Group, Civil Procedure Before Trial. It's a great practice guide that will tell you everything you need to know.
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Re: Superior Court vs. Small Claims

Post  mcarson on Sat Sep 26, 2009 6:26 pm

My other question is will the superior court even accept a case for less than $7500? My case is for only about $1200 dollars. As for retaining a lawyer, I have already talked to one law firm, which was not interested in taking my case. I suspect most of these law firms are only interested in the large class action suits with large sums of money involved. If I were to retain an attorney for this small case, I imagine I would have to pay them by the hour. Does that sound correct? I am just hesitant to proceed in small claims as I also understand there is virtually no appeals if the judge rules in favor of the defendant.
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Re: Superior Court vs. Small Claims

Post  mcarson on Sat Sep 26, 2009 7:05 pm

Actually the figure would be about $8000 when including waiting time penalties. Sorry about the earlier dollar amount.
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Re: Superior Court vs. Small Claims

Post  Endeavor on Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:08 pm

It doesn't make much sense to go to general Superior Court with the amount of damages you're talking about. The filing fee alone is about $330 for limited civil cases. Your costs can eat up a huge chunk of the recovery, depending on how protracted the litigation becomes. And you're right, you would likely have to pay an attorney by the hour and it would eat up all of your damages, and then some. But on the other end of that, there is no appeal for the plaintiff in small claims...so there is also a down side there.
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Re: Superior Court vs. Small Claims

Post  JoeC (McGruff) on Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:09 pm

I agree with Endeavor although next to divorce Tittle VII ranks the highest in Pro-se cases. The federal courts have a pro-se packet. It really is something I would not attempt. Even lawyers retain lawyers for litigation. I guarantee Ardy Arkin (the other admin and attorney) would not recommend it at all it is one of his pet peeves.
The other draw back to small claims is defendant is entitled to an appeal and the plaintiff is not.
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Small Claims Court v Superior Court

Post  Admin on Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:53 am

There are no advantages to bringing such a small dispute to superior court. The whole purpose of small claims court is to make things cheap, quick and simple for plaintiffs. $1,200 is a very small dispute, and it would be a waste of time/effort to bring such an action in Superior Court.

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