Forty two Helpful Navigational Guides For Using Your Small Claims Court

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The procedures governing Small Claims Actions are set out in article 18 (Small Claims) and 18-A (Commercial claims) of the New York City Civil Court Act (CCA)

ATTENTION:   My attorney told me to tell you that I am NOT A  LAWYER; indeed I am an ORTHODONTIST  Resume. The original intention of my book (see 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 alas 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.

It is well to remember that laws/rules and procedures, etc. are constantly in flux in every domain be it at the local area, city, or state level. Furthermore, the judges/arbitrators themselves have a variety of approaches to meet their obligation of dispensing "Substantial Justice."

  1. Always check to confirm that the court in which you are going to file the initial Claim form (PLDZ-2) in has jurisdiction over the party/person you intend to take to SCC. The rule is if the defendant Lives, Works or Does business in the County where the debtor incurred the debt to you, you can use the court in that county. Exception: in NYC you can file an initial claim form in any one of the five Small Claims Courts in NYC.
  2. In NY SCC you can only ask for a monetary award; the maximum is presently $5.000. See other fees below.
  3. Never be timid to call the Small Claims Court, Brooklyn SCC: 347 404 9021
  4. Before initiating a case, review the "Reasons not to initiate an SCC claim."  (For example, the debtor filed for bankruptcy.)
  5. Always call the SCC for procedural information.
  6. Never call the SCC for legal information.
  7. When you call the SCC office tell them who you are: "I am the plaintiff in an Individual claim (as opposed to a "commercial claim" if you were a PC) and I want to know…?
  8. If you are a PC (Professional Corporation) or partnership the fee and procedure to file a claim is slightly different, and some courts even use a separate form
  9. Always request payment by a specific date in writing, and advise the debtor that you are going to file a claim in SCC on a given date, then do it on that date or thereabout.
  10. Never fear a counterclaim. While they sometimes do occur, they are always unfounded and will therefore be seen as such, and will be dismissed. A claim/counterclaim is always scheduled to be heard together. (PLDZ-8)
  11. It is possible for the defendant to file his counterclaim on the evening of your hearing.
  12. The defendant, if he wished, could elect to have your claim against him heard by a jury simply by paying $55-$100.
  13. Never forget that 8 out of 10 times the defendant will NOT appear at your hearing, and if you can support your case with documents/evidence you will win a "default judgment."  (the defendant did not show, you presented your evidence and the Judge/arbitrator ruled in you favor.) (PLDZ-8)
  14. As the result of recent ruling state-wide 1999, (NY), both plaintiff and/or defendant may have attorneys to represent them in the SCC without concern that the case will automatically be referred by the Judge/Arbitrator to the next higher level of court in NY, Civil Court.
  15. Remember that if a JUDGE hears your case, you can file and APPEAL, but if an ARBITRATOR hears your case it cannot be appealed. (For info on Appeals see book Small Claims Court Step by Step – Rothstein,
  16. Never forget that judges/arbitrators are human and can make mistakes…If they do, bite the bullet or appeal the case. You have 30 days from the time you receive the judgment to do so, but only if your case was heard by a judge.
  17. Never forget that the defendant will never (did I say never?) come with an attorney.
  18. Always try to file as many claims as the court allows in one court session (2-4)
  19. Make a template of the Initial Claim (PLDZ-2)  form with your name etc. for handy use.
  20. Always send a staff member (over 18) to carry out court matters whenever possible.
  21. Never send a person to the SCC if you can do the procedure by mail. Nowadays you can file a claim by Email (be prepared to pay $15 more than the usual fee if you filed at the court.
  22. Always include a SSAE (Stamped self-addressed Envelope) when you request the SCC to send you paperwork.
  23. Never forget the usefulness of the three subpoenas available at little or no cost from the SCC: Subpoena to testify; Subpoena for Records (PLDZ-9) (Subpoena Duces Tecum); Subpoena for Information and Restraining Order. (PLDZ-13)
  24. You are at liberty to call the SCC to find out what is the date of the hearing you will get if you file your claim this day. (Avoids scheduling problems.)
  25. Always confirm with the SCC office on the date of your hearing that your name is listed on the "Calendar." And ask what number your case is (first, tenth, last) on the "Calendar Rollcall".
  26. Never be timid to call the debtor/defendant just before the hearing if you are willing to consider settling.
  27. Never come late for the "Calendar call" on the evening of your hearing. If you you come after the Court Clerk call your name your case will be dismissed. However you are at liberty to file a new Initial Claim Form (waste of money and your good time).
  28. At the hearing try to remain calm; always be respectful to the judge (Your Honor)… or to the Arbitrator (who is usually a volunteer for free/Pro Bono attorney You address them "Attorney/Arbitrator/Mr. Smith") and the defendant as (Mrs. Jones).  (ALWAYS BRING A PEN AND PAPER WITH YOU TO TAKE NOTES)
  29.  For Dental Professionals: You will never be required to show your molds and X-rays, but you might upon occasion want to reference certain dates from the patient’s treatment record.  In general always bring with you all the evidence that you have that can support your claim to the money that you think is owed to you.
  30. Always expect the defendant to put his own spin on the facts of the case. BE POLITE--DON'T INTERRUPT WHEN THE DEFENDANT TELLS HIS STORY JUST AFTER YOU TELL YOURS   And don’t forget for a minute that your arbitrator is a trained lawyer and charged with the responsibility of dispensing to both plaintiff and defendant an equal dose of "Substantial Justice."  (YouTube: Dr. Ted Rothstein SCC case televised.)
  31. Always support whatever facts you provide with documentation/evidence.
  32. Always prepare only the FACTS of your case on a 5" x 7" card and present your case in about 5 minutes, skipping the minutia/ KIS (Keep it Simple).
  33. Always, after obtaining the Judgment in your favor (PLDZ-10), let the "Judgment debtor" know that you are going to act by doing 1 …. and/or, 2. and/or, 3. etc., if they have not paid you by 30 days from the date on the judgment, then take the action(s) on that date or thereabout.
  34. The SCC Judgment by itself does not compel a debtor to pay you. See (PLDZ-9)  (PLDZ-13)   (PLDZ-12)
  35. A SCC judgment gets "turbo-charged" only when you register it in the County Clerk’s office/Supreme Court. Doing this you RUIN his credit.
  36. Always let the debtor know that your first move will be to mar his credit report and put a lien on his property (assets in his bank account) (PLDZ-12) by a certain date, then do it on that date. Or that you are going to place a  garnishee on his wages.
  37. After that let him know that you are beginning an action to garnishee his wages on a certain date, then do it on that date. (PLDZ-12)
  38. Be aware of the "scenarios" (PLDZ-8) that are possible after filing a claim. (See handout and book Small Claims Court and website
  39. Never forget: all the filing fees (except attorney’s) fees, unless provided by statute or contract) are rewarded back to you after you win and collect.
  40. Always let the court know when/if you settle the case or that the defendant has satisfied (paid you) the judgment. All you have to do is send them a note saying the case is settled (provide your name, defendant's name and the Case/Index number which you were given when you filed the Initial claim form.
  41. Never forget that if you accidentally/on purpose forget to go for your court hearing you are permitted to refile your claim against that person again.J
  42. If you are from NY visit: Website of The New York State Bar association and  Article: Special Procedures Apply To Enforcing Judgments In Small Claims Courts

      Ted Rothstein, DDS, PhD
      Prnted April 1st 1999 and Updated April 2, 2011

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:

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

 Court Room: 3rd Fl.

6:30 Pm, Mon. – Thurs.

 Ted Rothstein, DDS, PhD  
Orthodontics for Adults and Children


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
ost 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 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.

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
April 24, 2011