Small business owner wants to sue in small claims court


Small business owner wants to sue in small claims court and wants to know some details of how to do it and collect on any judgment that is awarded to him.


Sean: Good morning sir - Thank you for taking my call. Quick question, I'm actually a business owner myself and I have a question about small claims court overall. If we ever have a customer that would owe us some money, and we know that for instance if their event-- We do production work. If an event ever gets cancelled, then our contract with them states that you have to let us know 30 days before. If they don't, and something gets cancelled, then we actually go ahead and they do whole list for the whole sum.

We have heard from multiple other people that taking it to small claims court you're not going to get anything, that you're newer going to be able to collect what you truly have because they can just go round and round. Can you explain a little bit about small claims court. Where is that financial cap of the difference between a regular court, small claims? What's that money, and is it true?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey Sean, first of all, you have a contract with your customers. Does your contract provide where venue would lie if you have to sue them?

Sean: No.

Attorney Tom Olsen: It's probably should. You live in Seminole county, your business in Seminole county, Sean. You should probably add to the contract that if you have to sue them, you're allowed to sue them in Seminole county, not whatever county they happen to reside in. Sean with that said, small claims court cap is $5000 Sean. What that means is, is that if you're suing for less than $5000, the clerks will give you the forms, help you through the process step by step.

Sean, what you're hearing is true in that the sense often getting a judgement against somebody is the easy part, it's just a piece of paper. Collecting on that judgement is a hard part, but in small claims court, when you sue somebody by yourself, without a lawyer, the judge is obligated to help you collect it. Will they voluntarily say, "Sean, let me help you," no they won't. You got to ask them.

But what they'll do is they'll make the defendant provide a financial affidavit that will give you an idea of what the assets are of the defendant's. Therefor you'll know what assets you might be able to go after. Sean, so to do small claims court really what you're risking is your time and your filing fees are probably about 250 bucks.

Sean: Okay. Thank you very much for your help.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Sean, good luck to you and I hear your dilemma. I hope that you are successful in collecting this money. What do you think, Chrissy?

Chrissy: Well, I was going to say, Tom, first of all, absolutely, he should adjust his contract, like you were mentioning, to make sure that the venue, because that forces however he's doing business, for them to come to Seminole county.