Small Claims Court Articles

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Small Claims Court articles and useful information  by Dr. Ted Rothstein with guidelines to help you  navigate Small Claims Court successfully by winning a judgment in your favor and knowing how to collect the money (50% of winners never get paid) Here are the documents meticulously prepared to help you be efficient and effective in SCC

ATTENTION:   My attorney told me to say that I am NOT A  LAWYER; indeed I am an ORTHODONTIST  Resume. The original intention of my book (see amazon.com) was to show my colleagues how to go about methodically collecting the fees for their well-deserved professional services after they exhausted all efforts to collect by other methods rather than turning the delinquent account over to  collection agencies, (who in my opinion have proven to be a lamentable waste of time and money).  Indeed, my book offers an array of criteria for deciding whether or not to even file a claim in Small Claims Court. The most important value of my book is show the reader how to make the FEWEST mistakes possible (I made them all) and how to use the legal tools that are available once you won a "Judgment" in your favor. While this book is basically a how-to primer for professionals, non-professionals "everyman" may gain invaluable knowledge from it to have his day in court WITHOUT the need of lawyers (Pro Se) or indeed any legal knowledge whatsoever, where he may receive "Substantial" Justice. The documents are based on my extensive use of the Small Claims Court which is a 13 minute walk from my office and my home.  In all of the SCC cases upon which my experience are based I was the plaintiff.  Finally, If you do purchase some of the documents and they help you please write a nice review.

Read the article on Small Claims Court that I wrote for the American Journal of Orthodontics in March of '99.

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The documents offered below by and large cannot be found in the book upon which they are based. They have all been reviewed carefully for accuracy. The documents are largely in the order in which you would experience them if you filed a claim except for the glossary of legal terms, criteria NOT to initiate a claim in Small Claims Court  and the summons to appear in court. These documents rightfully belong toward the top of the list. Email me should have any questions about the documents.
On Using the Small Claims Court: Speak directly with Dr. Rothstein drted35@aol.com Minimum session $20/20 minutes: Payment by credit card in advance.
"There's many a slip "twixt the cup and the lip" is an old English proverb that implies that even when the outcome of an event seems certain, things can still go wrong. Nowadays, we say: "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched". Here is a partial list of most of the things/slips that might happen from the moment you file a Small Claims Court action and the time you collect the money that was awarded to you by the Judge. FOUND IN CHAPTER 5 OF THE BOOK FREE DOWNLOAD FROM DRTED.COM
Small Claims Court Free Service to Resolve Settle Your Case by Mediation Before a Court Hearing
The Civil Court of the City of New York, all five boroughs of which Small Claims Court is a subdivision offers a free mediation service. "MEDIATE DON'T LITIGATE". The Commissioner of Mediation Services Coordination, Civil Court of the City of New York is at present Andrew D. Lewis:  646-386-5727    mediationcivil@Courts.state.ny.us

PLDZ-20

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The flow sheet for using SCC from filing a claim to collecting on Judgment using the three most effective methods
Thank you for purchasing one of the documents  based on my actual experience using the Brooklyn, NY small claims court and presented as  part of my popular book on SCC (see amazon.com)  This overview is delightfully compact and informative and shows you the pathways you must navigate to get a judgment and collect on it.
$2.00 PLDZ-1

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42 guidelines to navigate the SCC successfully Thank you for purchasing this guide which was written as a result of my actual experiences. I wish someone had let me in on the basics when I was still green behind the ears.  There are so many careless errors you can make. Here's just a few:
  1. Always check to confirm that the court you are going to file in has jurisdiction over the party/person you intend to take to SCC.
  2. In NY SCC you can only ask for a monetary award; the maximum is presently $5.000.
    +40 more useful guidelines
$3.75 PLDZ-2

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NYC Small Claims Court Initial Claim Form (for Individuals; Max. $5000) See filing fee below.

Typically you have to go to the Courthouse to get the form. What a waste of time and travel expenses. Why bother? This is the form for all the Small Claims Courts in NYC--five to be exact, one for each Borough. Thank you for purchasing this form. It is the first one exhibited in my book on SCC written as a result of my actual experiences (see amazon.com)
it will save you a trip to the courthouse and that alone is worth the $2.50. Copy it to use over and over again.
(see filing fees below)
$2.50   PLDZ-3

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How to filled in the example of the Initial Claim Form (Indiv.)  Thank you for purchasing an example of completed Initial Claim Form (the 2nd form in my my SCC book--(see amazon.com). Yes it's simple to complete --once you've done it 10 times and made lots of mistakes so the clerk at the window thinks you're an idiot  I have stood an line with my completed claim form in hand and watched repeatedly as folks were turned away by the clerk at the window who rejected their forms because they botched it. In my early days I made the same mistakes--forewarned is forearmed. Buy the form and avoid the most common errors. The reverse side of the Initial Claim form is blank.

$2.00   PLDZ-4

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A Demand for Payment Letters Thank you for purchasing the Demand for Payment Letter. This letter should be written both before filing the Initial Claim Form and after you win a Judgment in your favor. It shows the debtor that you mean business and shows the Court you did ask the debtor to pay you. Indeed he has 30 days to pay you after you get a judgment in your favor. Best to send the demand letter by regular mail AND registered return receipt. it costs about $3.00 but it sends a message to the debtor that you are SERIOUS. You can even list the three legal actions you may possibly take when you win/have won a judgment in your favor. $2.00   PLDZ-5

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NYC Small Claims Court Initial claim Form (Commercial) if you are incorporated (Corporation)

Thank you for purchasing this document. Use it to file and initial claim if/when you are an incorporated entity (PC, LLC). If your are not PC use the initial claim form for an individual (see above).  The cost to file a "commercial" Initial Claim Form costs $30.62. You are supposed to use this form if you are filing as an incorporated (PC) entity. It's title on the face page indicates that it is a commercial (versus an Individual entity) that is filing a claim

$2.00   PLDZ-6

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Reverse Side of  Commercial Claim (text information)  This document gives you instructions re the filing of a "Commercial" Claim form (for PCs) and info about sending a demand letter (see above). If you are an incorporated entity (PC, LLC, other?) there are certain technical issues spelled out regarding the filing of a "Commercial" claim. $2.00   PLDZ-7

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Small Claims Court Surprises and how to handle them: Thank you for purchasing this document. I love this document ABOVE ALL. It is based on knowledge gained through my actual experiences. It is like the map a sailor uses when sailing in uncharted waters--UGH. S--t happens when you use the courts. You ought to know what you are going up against.
3.
You receive by regular mail and by certified mail a notice from the court that the defendant is counter-suing YOU. Do not be alarmed, this is always bogus. You never would have filed an SCC claim if you thought for moment you sere susceptible to a counterclaim. (See Section VII. -- COUNTERING THE COUNTERCLAIM).L
 4.
Your debtor calls before the hearing date to make a settlement offer of $2,500. You say: "I wanted $3,000, but I'll split the difference." He agrees -- Amen!J
$3.75  PLDZ-8

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How to file a Subpoena for Records "Duces Tecum" Getting the documents you need to prove your case  Thank your for purchasing this document. Sometimes the guy who owes you the money holds a document you need to win your case in SCC. How do you get it/them? Excerpt: When the clerk verifies the green card is back you are ready for the next step: go back to the SCC clerk's office and request  a Subpoena for Records form (no cost). Herein this form will be referred to as the "ORIGINAL S f R". The Subpoena for Records is also called a "Subpoena Duces Tecum". The id. no. of the form is CIV-GP-70 (3/91).    Be prepared to provide the clerk with your name, the name of the defendant and your case's index number, (REMEMBER I TOLD YOU TO KNOW YOUR CASE/INDEX NUMBER).

"Subpoena Duces Tecum"  is a Latin phrase meaning "bring with you under penalty of punishment". The summons is called a "subpoena for production of evidence" in some U.S. states that have sought to reduce the use of non-English words and phrases in court terminology. The subpoena duces tecum is similar to the subpoena ad testificandum, which is a writ  (order) summoning a witness to testify orally. The ORIGINAL S f R is two-sided form. The reverse side is called the AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE OF SUBPOENA FOR RECORDS. ) You may now complete the  ORIGINAL S f R  side of the form and submit it back to the SCC clerk who will stamp it and place the official seal of the court upon it AND GIVE IT TO YOU. REGARDING COMPLETING THE ORIGINAL S f R FORM: You will note on the example shown (see example) that you are required to fill in the name of the court (in Brooklyn it is referred as the Kings County), the case index number, the "caption" (the name of the  defendant and the name the plaintiff). Where it says "To:" put the Defendant's  name. Then enumerate specifically the items you want the defendant to send to the court. You should request any and all documents that support your claim to the monies you believe the defendant owes you.  Be as DETAILED as possible in describing the documents, forms or items you want the Defendant to provide the court so that you can use them as evidence in support of your claim on the date of your court hearing.
$3.75  PLDZ-9

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The Judgment front and back showing the legal steps you can take to collect  Thank you for purchasing this document. I'll wager you have never seen what the Judge sends you (and the loser) a week after you won/lost your case. You get complete instructions on its back telling you what measures you can now take to get the money. The first time I got one (I Won) was quite a thrill. You never make a claim unless you're fairly certain you are going to win. Please read the back very carefully .

$3.00  PLDZ-10

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How to file a Subpoena for Information after you get the Judgment (getting your money out of their bank account) Thank you for purchasing this document. This is a 13-page document!  Now that you won a judgment in your favor. great! If you know they have money in a bank and or some possibly in some other banks? Well just buy ($2.00/subpoena for information at the SCC and hand it to any supervisor in the bank. You have just served a Sub. for Information. If the money is in that bank you got it. Excerpt from document:  This is multi-page document: Begin by perusing every one of the  10 pages contained in this document and then begin reading carefully at the "start." start: About one-two weeks after your hearing in Small Claims Court you will receive a Notice of Judgment (Purchase item PLDZ-10) indicating you either won or lost your case. If you won you can now begin the task of getting paid the amount you won as indicated on the Notice of Judgment. Without a moments delay send the judgment debtor (JD) a letter asking for payment based on the award granted in the Notice of Judgment. The JD has 30 days from the date on the Judgment before he is legally compelled to pay you so READ YOUR JUDGMENT carefully and pay attention to the date on which it was issued.  If you won send him a "demand payment" letter (Purchase item PLDZ-5) and refer to the Judgment (the court sends him a copy also) without a moment's delay. Send it by registered return-receipt mail. This sends a message that you are serious. When 30 days have passed after you received the Notice of Judgment and the judgment debtor has not paid you, and you do not know where the JD has a bank account or a place of employment you can do the following: 1. If you do know where he is employed you can file an Income Execution (Purchase item PLDZ-12);  2. You can file your Judgment in the County Clerk's office which has the effect of putting his credit rating into never-never land.  Or, you can take steps to find out where he banks his assets.

$3.75  PLDZ-13

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HOW TO OBTAIN/BUY BLANK LEGAL FORMS:  Blumberg forms > Forms >New York>Enforcement of judgments> use FORM 439 "Income Execution" (REGARDING FORM T 239: The Blumberg form support team wrote: “Sorry, form 239 is not available for online purchase at www.blumberglegalforms.com Contact Blumberg at legal@blumb.com, or call 800 221-2972 and press 1 for information about buying a hard copy of the form.”  support@blumberglegalforms.com 

How to Garnishee *  a salary when you win a Judgment (Income and Property Executions):  Thank you for purchasing this document! So now you have a Judgment in your favor. If you know where your debtor banks or works you here are the the only tools you need. Read how to do it with these meticulous instructions. EXCERPT: What you need to have to expedite the Income Execution to garnishee debtor's wages/salary and what you need to get the debtor's bank to give you the assets the debtor owes you (assuming you have already served a Subpoena for Information on the debtor's bank (PDLZ-13).
Special note:
HOW TO FILE A SUBPOENA FOR INFORMATION whether or not you know the JD's bank: This subpoena lets you locate the JD's assets if they are kept in a bank and "freezes" those assets so that the debtor cannot close his account or remove any assets from it. Indeed, the bank freezes this account for twice  the amount owed to you on the judgment. That means that if you are awarded a judgment for $5000, the bank is legally obligated to freeze $10,000 of the assets in his account (assuming he has $10,000 in his account.)
1. The Judgment you received provides you with amount of money you won, the index/case number. (Read the small print on the Judgment because it gives you very valuable information on how to proceed).
2. The JD's name (the name of the defendant on the judgment).
3. The JD's residence which is the address you used to file the claim. (Marshal need the address to contact the JD.)
4. The JD's employer and/or place of employment. It is important to be accurate and as detailed as possible. If the debtor works for the city you may also have to supply the JD's social security number.
GARNISHEE WAGES:
5. A completed "Income Execution" form which you will mail/bring to the Marshal who will SERVE it on the JD's EMPLOYER if he is unable to convince the JD that he should pay you. The form to use is the Blumberg (proprietary) form T239. A COMPLETED FORM IS SHOWN BELOW. You can purchase this form at a stationery store or one that sells Legal forms.
PROPERTY EXECUTION:
6.  OR If you have located assets in the JD's bank and have frozen the funds by serving on the JD's bank a Subpoena for Information (PDLZ-13). you can now  give the Marshal a completed Blumberg form B 320, "EXECUTION WITH NOTICE TO GARNISHEE". (EXAMPLE BELOW). The form can be purchased ($2.50) at a stationery store or one that sells Legal forms. (JULIUS BLUMBERG, Inc, PUBLISHER 62 White St., NY, NY 10013). The B 320 is also called a "PROPERTY EXECUTION" form...

$3.75  PLDZ-12

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Criteria for NOT initiating a Small Claims Court Action:  Thank you for purchasing this document. Indeed there are many good reasons not to initiate a SCC action: EXCERPT:
·        
Your debtor is a lawyer--specifically, a collection lawyer or your debtor works for a collection agency.
·        
You do not need the money.
·        
The loss of the money doesn’t bother you.
·        
It’s not the “Priciple” of the thing for you.
·        
Your debtor does not live, work or do business in the county where your local court is. Consequently you will have to travel way out of your way to get to the court that has jurisdiction over him.
·        
You are not willing to accept $5,000 to settle for the work you did or goods you sold or damages you suffered.
Plus 25 more

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Response to an Information Subpoena served on CitiBank  This is a real document. I served CityBank with an InfSub and here is the document I received a week later. The debtor did not have funds in Citibank (all CitiBanks) not just the local branch at which I served the InfSub in-person.  Great if you know in which bank your debtor parks his funds just file the InfSub at that bank. You don't have to know exactly which branch. But If you don't know and you have a judgment in your favor. Go back to the SCC window and get 6 information subpoenas under $5.00  and following the instructions I gave you in How to file an Information Subpoena ($3.00) serve one on each of the six most popular banks around where he lives/works. I'll wage he banks in one of them. If he does the bank will freeze 2x the amount he owes you. You present your judgment and they give you what he owes you. You can send him a note "Judgment Satisfied" FREE  PLDZ-14 FREE DOWNLOAD  
Small Claims Court Summons to appear in court
See what the debtor receives when you file an  Initial Claim Form in SCC. The summons gives him all the details that you completed on the Initial Claim Form NOTE: The summons is sent by Certified mail and contains all the information you filled-in on the  Initial Claim Form and then some. Normal people react with ALARM when they see this kind of certified mail. They must now sign the green card attached which is then sent back to the court. This constitutes "Proof of Service" of the Summons.
FREE PLDZ-16 FREE DOWNLOAD  
Small Claims Court legal terms defined (Glossary of Legal terms) 8 pages 45 terms: You should know at least a modicum of the terms used in navigating the SCC. In the glossary I conjured up for you  (Chapter II of the book) I have provided you with the definitions of the terms IN THE ORDER YOU WILL ENCOUNTER THEM in order that you may more clearly see the process that is the Small Claims Court. Begin with "DEBTOR": "Synonymous with the terms “patient”, “client”, “customer”, “defendant”: The person to whom a service was provided or goods were sold and who, for a variety of reasons wrongly refuses, fails or neglects to pay for that service or those goods." 2. CAUSE OF ACTIONSee Cause of Action" A “right of action” is the legal right to sue; a cause of action is the facts which give rise to a right of action.  If the Statement of Claim (see below) fails to set forth a proper cause of action, it will be dismissed.  “Jones failed to pay for the services I rendered pursuant to the retainer agreement between us” is a cause of action.  [PLDZ-3] presents a list of causes of action. $3.50 PLDZ-17

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How to File the Debtor's Judgment in the County Clerk's Office ...Go back to the Small Claims Court office and request a “Transcript of the Judgment” by providing the clerk with the Index/Case number and the name of the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the debtor). This costs $15 (see below). Bring the Transcript of the Judgment to the County Clerk’s office and after finding the correct window pay the clerk another $25-$35. He will affix his stamp on the document. See Document attached “Civil Court of the City of New York TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT and note the seal of the clerk near the upper right corner of the document...  $3.00 PLDZ-19

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Notice of Satisfaction of Judgment  ...I have provided you herein with Blumberg (proprietary) Form B 242, Entitled: “Whole or Partial Satisfaction of Judgment (Blank Court)”  The joy of this document, which you can purchase for $2.25 at a stationery store that sells legal forms) is that I have shown you the information with which you need to fill-in the blanks. Without having the blanks filled in the document is undecipherable unless you are a lawyer. You will complete the B-242, have it notarized by a Notary Public (see note below) and send it by Registered return-receipt mail to the court and a copy to the former “Judgment debtor”. You have now discharged you obligation to him who is free to advise the credit agencies that has fulfilled his debt to you. They in turn are legally obligated to record that fact on his credit report...  $3.75 PLDZ-18

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Small Claims Court: Brooklyn
and the same for each of the five courts in NYC

141 Livingston St./Cor. Jay St.

 
(347) 404 – 9021 (legal advice not provided)
 File a Claim: 9th Fl.
$15 up to $1000; $20 above $1000
Maximum: $5000

 File online: http://www.turbocourt.com/

(It will cost you an additional fee of $15)

 Court Room: 3rd Fl.

6:30 Pm, Mon. – Thurs.

 
 
FEES FOR SMALL CLAIMS MATTERS

Cost to file a Notice of Claim when the amount you are claiming for is less than $1,000:       $15.00
Cost to file a Notice of Claim when the amount you are claiming for is between $1,000- $5,000:     $20.00
Cost to file a Counterclaim:      $5.41
Cost to file a Commercial Claim up to $5,000:   $30.62
Cost to file against a 3rd party in a commercial Claim:   $5.62
Cost for each additional party in a commercial claim you want to claim against:     $5.62
Cost for a Certificate of disposition of judgment:   $6.00
Cost for Certifications of Document:     $6.00
Cost for a Transcript of Judgment:     $15.00
Cost for a Notice of Appeal:     $15.00
Cost for a Jury demand (only the defendant can demand a trial by jury)     $70.00
 

Cost for an Information Subpoena (obtainable only after winning a judgment)  to help you locate the "Judgment Debtor's" assets:  $2.00 per information Subpoena...it is served on the entity that may have information about the judgment debtor's assets, i.e., a bank. There may be a maximum of 3-4 issued at each appearance before the clerk's window.

Cost for a Subpoena for Records ("Subpoena Duces Tecum", pronounced doo'kes tee'kum) This Subpoena is obtained after you have verified that the your Notice of Claim has been served on the defendant. It used when you want documents that you know or believe the defendant possesses and want them to produce THOSE DOCUMENTS on the night of your court hearing or before for you to examine to help support your claim.  Cost is $0.00. IT CANNOT BE SERVED BY MAIL.

  * Re; The income execution outside of NYC:

 Once you have won your judgment you are the "judgment creditor",. The person who owes you the money is the "judgment debtor" (JD).

You must wait 30 days from the date marked on the judgment you received from the court before you can act. You must and should request payment from the JD during this time. You can and should indicate that you intend to have the sheriff serve papers on him and then his employer to garnishee his salary if he does not pay you.

If he does not pay you:

1. Call  the office of your county sheriff get the address/location of the sheriff's office and confirm with him that he is the sheriff with jurisdiction over the JD (Does the JD live an work in the sheriff's county and therefore can serve the papers on the JD and/or his employer).

2. Speak with the sheriff or someone knowledgeable in the office (the Sheriff himself or the deputy Sheriff).

3. Tell them you have a small claims court judgment and want to garnishee the JD's wages

3.5 You will need to go to the Sheriff's Office to the Sheriff's office to complete the paper work and pay the fees.

4. You will need to provide the sheriff's office with the JD's name and the  name and address of his place of  employment (be as specific as possible)

5.You will need to provide the Sheriff with a "certified" copy (TRANSCRIPT) of your judgment, You can obtain that at the small claims court clerk's office. ($15)

6.You should ask the sheriff what his fee is for preparing and serving the papers.

6.5  The fee may vary from county to county. In Niagara County, NY  the fee is $82 payable by cash or check with a photo ID  (drivers license).

7. The Sheriff will complete the Income execution form and "serve" it FIRST on the JD. If after 20 days the JD fails to begin payment or later defaults on payment. the sheriff will serve the papers on the debtor's employer.

8. Typically the JD must pay 10% of his salary check. Consequently, you will receive your money by installments.

9. The sheriff also gets paid, but not from the money the JD owes you.  The sheriff's fee is called his "poundage".

September 2, 2007

 
Ted Rothstein, DDS, PhD  
Specialist in Cosmetic Orthodontics
and Dentofacial Orthopedics
Adults and Children Specialist in Orthodontic Jaw Wiring

American Association of Orthodontists
Life-active Member
35 Remsen St., Bklyn, NY 11201
718 852 1551    Fx 718 852 1894 www.drted.com  
 drted35@aol.com
April 24, 2011