Legal disputes involving insubstantial amounts may be heard in small claims courts in NY City, Town and Village Courts. Set forth below are some facts about the resolution of small claims in such courts.
- The small claims court is an informal court where individuals can sue for money only, up to $3,000 in Town or Village Courts, and up to $5,000 in City Courts.
- Claimants can sue without a lawyer.
- You cannot sue for injunctive relief in a small claims court — lawsuits may be for money only.
- You must bring suit in the municipality in which the defendant resides, has an office for the transaction of business or has regular employment.
- Generally, corporations, partnerships, associations and assignees cannot sue in small claims court. Such entities, however, can be sued in small claims court.
- A counterclaim may be filed against the claimant by the defendant. The counterclaim must be for money only, and cannot be for more than $3,000 in Town or Village Courts, or $5,000 in City Courts.
- Adjournments in small claims courts are discouraged because the purpose of small claims courts is to have cases quickly decided.
- The claimant cannot demand a jury trial in small claims court.
- The defendant, however, may demand a jury trial at any time prior to the day of the hearing.
- If jury trial is held in the small claims court part, the claim will be heard by six jurors.
- If the claimant fails to appear when the case is called, the case will generally be dismissed.
- An appeal of the small claims court’s decision in permissible and the appellate court will consider whether the trial judge’s decision represents “substantial justice.”
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