the dollar amount at stake, there are other important
factors in determining whether an equine legal matter
is appropriate for small claims court.
of Small Claims
attorney is necessary, and while you can have an
attorney assist you in preparing your case (which
Equine Legal Solutions recommends), you must speak
on your own behalf in court. Considering that in
regular civil cases, you can expect to spend
$10,000 or more in attorneys' fees alone, this can
be a benefit.
claim will likely be heard much more quickly than
in regular civil court, and you will receive a
decision fairly quickly after the hearing. In
situations such as boarding disputes where you
will have ongoing costs until the matter is
resolved, this is a distinct advantage.
court costs will generally be $100 or less,
compared to $500-1,000 per filing for
regular civil court. You can typically ask for
those costs as part of your claim. Note that in
regular civil court, court costs are rarely
awarded in routine civil litigation.
the fact that you can't have an attorney speak for
you in court, if you have an attorney assist you
with your case, you can claim attorneys' fees as
part of your small claims court claim and have a
good chance of being awarded such fees if you win
your case. This is not true in regular civil
court, where attorneys' fees are rarely awarded in
routine civil matters.
Disadvantages of Small Claims
claim is limited to the amount set by your state,
typically under $10,000, plus court costs and
can only seek money damages.
claims court is unpredictable. Some of our clients
have gone to small claims with seemingly
rock-solid cases and lost. Others have gone with
shaky cases and won.
quality of the jurisprudence (i.e., qualifications
and experience of small claims judges) is not
always very high. See our note about pro tem
judges below. You cannot expect judiciary worthy
of US Supreme Court (or even Law & Order,
for that matter).
have to present your own case to the judge and
can't have an attorney speak for you.
Not having an attorney to speak on your
behalf can be a detriment if you are not a skilled
public speaker or will find it difficult to
maintain your composure.
can be hard to collect a judgment, as the remedies
available for collection in small claims are more
limited than those in regular civil court.
In addition, unless you hire an attorney to
represent you, it may be difficult for you to
avail yourself of the full range of collection
options that are offered by small claims.
in determining whether your equine legal matter is
appropriate for small claims,
contact ELS to schedule a