By Shojin Volunteer Contributor
In going back over some of our older articles, I noticed that many of them were written for content, not for the reader experience. Because of this, I have taken the time to go back over some of these articles, in some cases splitting them into several articles to help the reader weed through large swaths of information. We hope this makes this information a little easier to “digest” and more useful to our visitors.
– Jeff Walker, President, MovingScam.com]\
How to File in Small Claims Court Against a Moving Company – Part 3
Step 6 – Small Claims Court This is where the Internet will come in very handy. First, some terms you need to become familiar with:
Plaintiff – this is you, the one who was wronged. Judgment Creditor – this is you too and is how the paperwork will identify you. Defendant – this is the moving company. Judgment Debtor – this is the moving company too, again referred to as “debtor” on the paperwork
The dollar amount limit for Small Claims Court varies from state to state. For example, in Rhode Island the limit is $1,500, but in Delaware the limit is $15,000.
In order to file, you need the moving company’s name and address. You can use the resources on www.movingscam.com to find this information.
Key – don’t just file against the moving company. File against the owner as well. You will probably have to pay a bit more in filing fees to file against more than one person / company, but it is worth it.
Finding the forms
This is where you will spend most of your time – trying to find out which court to file in, how to file, what forms to fill out, etc. Typically, for Small Claims Court, you are required to file in the district/county where the defendant is located, or where the dispute occurred. This means that because the dispute most likely occurred at your new house/apartment, you can file where you live.
Once you locate the right courthouse, it’s probably best to visit in person to ensure you get the correct forms and you can ask questions. After your initial visit, follow-on paperwork can be done via postal mail.
Step 7 – Paperwork Here are some typical forms you will need in order to file in Small Claims Court.
- Small Claims Court application. Usually a 1-2 page document where you fill out information like your name, address, defendant’s name(s) and address, amount of filing fees and a brief summary of why you think you are owed money.
- Copies of moving contract. You don’t need to include originals, but organize your papers to make sense.
- Log of interactions with moving company. Here is where you show that you tried to resolve the dispute before going to court.
- Copies of damage claim forms with proof that the moving company received them. Remember those fax confirmation pages or delivery confirmation notices? Include them here.
- Inventory of items damaged with receipts.
- Xerox copies of the photos of damaged items. Keep the second copy of the photos with you when court day arrives.
All of this should be including in the packet you file. Make a copy of everything.
Example of my summary [name of moving company] has failed to reimburse me for the damages they caused to my household goods during a relocation move from [state] to [new state]. In accordance with [moving company’s] procedures, on Aug 19, 2002, I submitted a damage claim with photographs of the items damaged. After repeated calls for more than two months to their offices, [moving company] has failed to settle this claim, nor have they provided me with any follow-up information. I am asking for [dollar amount of damaged goods] plus [dollar amount] in court fees for a total of [damages + court fees]
Step 8 – More waiting It may take a few weeks/months before you are assigned a court date. For example, I filed my paperwork on Nov. 26, 2002. On Dec. 10, I received a letter with an assigned court date of Jan. 21 – about two months from the date I filed.
The letter is a Civil Action Hearing Notice and is addressed to the Defendant, however, you always get a copy.
The letter informs the Defendant:
That a complaint has been made against him. b. Who made the complaint – that’s you. c. The date, time and place he needs to appear. d. What happens if the Defendant fails to appear