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1. What is Small Claims Court?

  • The "Small Claims Court" is a part of Connecticut’s court system where a person can sue for money damages only up to $5,000.00. That amount is set by state law and may change from time to time. You may also be able to get interest and costs.
  • The only exception to the $5,000.00 limit is a case brought for the return of a security deposit in a landlord–tenant matter. In this situation only. the plaintiff may sue for double the amount of the security deposit, plus interest that has been added to the amount, even if the doubled amount brings the claim over the $5,000.00 limit.
  • You do not need an attorney.
  • Magistrates (specially appointed lawyers) decide the cases.
  • Simple rules of evidence apply, instead of complex rules.
  • There is no transcript of the trial; it is not recorded.
  • There is no right to appeal the decision.
  • Addresses and Telephone Numbers of Connecticut Small Claims Areas - PDF
2. What cases belong in Small Claims Court?
  • back rent;
  • return of security deposit;
  • broken or damaged property;
  • unpaid claims;
  • breach of a written or verbal contract;
  • doctor/hospital bills for medical treatment;
  • claims valued up to $5,000.00.
3. What cases do not belong in Small Claims Court?
  • libel or slander;
  • damage to your reputation;
  • name calling;
  • claims valued at more than $5,000.00.
4. How long do I have to start a small claims case? (Called the statute of limitations)
  • A statute of limitations is a time limit on how long you have to start a case. There are different time limits for different kinds of cases.
  • Most statutes of limitations can be found in Chapter 926 of the Connecticut General Statutes
  • Be prepared to give the reasons why you believe that the statute of limitations time period has not run out if the claim is a consumer debt which is a debt or obligation made primarily for personal, family or household reasons. See Section 52-350a(2) of the Connecticut General Statutes.
5. Can an out-of-state individual or business file a claim in Connecticut?
  • Yes, however, the individual or business may be required to attend court hearings if the defendant contests any of the proceedings or if the court determines that the business or individual's presence is necessary.
6. How do I start a small claims case?
  • Use the court form "Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit," JD-CV-40. Type or neatly print your information on the forms. Read the "Instructions to Plaintiff" form to help you complete the writ. How-To program for filling out JD-CV-40, Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit.
  • Forms are available online or in any court location that handles small claims cases. Find your town and the court location that handles small claims, court address and telephone number. (PDF)
  • The person starting the case is the plaintiff; the person being sued is the defendant. After the case is decided, the person who is awarded money is the "judgment creditor" and the person who is ordered to pay the money is the "judgment debtor."
  • If there are more than two plaintiffs or you are suing more than two defendants, you must fill out and attach the "Continuation of Parties" form, JD-CV-67. to the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit form, JD-CV-40.
  • Your signature must be notarized. You must sign the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit form in front of the person who is notarizing it. You must also print your name clearly and your title, if you have a title, in the box provided. Your oath must be taken at the time you sign the form and the person who took your oath (the Clerk, a Notary, or a Commissioner of the Superior Court) must also sign it. Attorneys are Commissioners of the Superior Court.
7. How much does it cost to start a small claims case with the court?
  • There is a $90.00 entry (filing) fee .
  • You must pay the court clerk with cash, or with a check or money order made out to "Clerk of the Superior Court." If you pay in person, you may also pay by MasterCard or Visa.
  • If you hand-deliver the claim to the court, and you plan to pay with a personal check, bring a valid state issued photo I.D. your photo driver's license; U.S. passport; or Military I.D.
  • If you win your case, the entry fee and your costs of service will be added to the judgment against the defendant.
8. Where do I go to file a small claims case?
  • Any small claims case may be filed at the Centralized Small Claims office at 80 Washington Street, Hartford, CT 06106. New filings may be mailed or delivered by hand. If you want to file at a local court, click on the links below.
  • For landlord-tenant matters - at the Centralized Small Claims Office or in the court location where the property is located. Click on links below.
  • For other matters, click on links below.
  • Find out which small claims facility serves your town
  • Addresses and Telephone Numbers of Connecticut Small Claims Areas - PDF
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Suing Different Types of Defendants

9. How do I find out if the defendant is a corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or a partnership?
  • Call the Secretary of the State at 860-509-6002 to find out if it is a corporation or an LLC and to get its address.
  • If it is not a corporation or LLC, contact the town clerk's office where the company is located to get the name of the business owner, if the defendant is a DBA (doing business as) or trade name.
10. Must I use the defendant's full name?
  • Yes, use the exact, complete name of the person or business.
  • If you leave out any part of the name, you may not be able to collect your money if you win the case.
  • Do not abbreviate any part of the name.
11. What if the defendant resides out of the state of Connecticut?
  • You may file against the out-of-state resident only if he or she owns property in the state of Connecticut.
  • A statement indicating that the out-of-state individual owns property must be included in the claim.
12. What do I do if I want to sue an out-of-state business entity?
  • First you must find out if the business entity has an agent for service by contacting the Secretary of the State at 860-509-6002.
  • You must use a proper officer (for example a state marshal) to serve (deliver to) an out-of-state business entity.

Filing Fees, Court Papers and Court Dates

15. How do I serve (deliver) a small claims case on the defendant(s)?
  • Unless you are hiring a proper officer (for example a state marshal) to serve (deliver) the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit for you, you must deliver a copy of the completed original Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit to each defendant with the “Instructions to Defendant” form, JD-CV-121, before filing those documents with the court. You must deliver a copy of all the documents you want to file with the court, for example, all attachments to the original writ must be delivered. After all of those documents have been delivered, file the original documents with the court, with the correct entry fee and “Statement of Service” form for each defendant. Keep a copy for your records.
  • The plaintiff, or his or her representative, must serve (deliver) the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit separately on each defendant using 1of the 4 methods listed below, except that for each defendant who is an out-of-state entity (a business organized under the laws of a state other than Connecticut), the plaintiff must pay a proper officer (for example, a state marshal) to serve the defendant as described in number 4. There are special requirements for service on (delivery to) out-of-state insurance companies. The requirements are in Chapter 697, Title 38a of the Connecticut General Statutes and you may find information on the Connecticut Insurance Department

    website.
  1. By priority mail with delivery confirmation: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit, JD-CV-40, and attach any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep the original Writ and documents and mail a copy of the Writ and documents, and the Instructions to Defendant, form JD-CV-121, to each defendant. When you have the delivery confirmation(s), file the original Writ and documents, a Statement of Service form, JD-CV-123, for each defendant, and the delivery confirmation(s) with the court. How-To program to fill out JD-CV-123, Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claims.
  • By certified mail, return receipt requested: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit, JD-CV-40, and attach any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep the original Writ and documents and mail a copy of the Writ and documents, and the Instructions to Defendant, form JD-CV-121, to each defendant. When you receive the signed return receipt(s), file the original Writ and documents, a Statement of Service form, JD-CV-123, for each defendant, and the signed return receipt(s) (green card) with the court.
  • By a nationally recognized courier service providing delivery confirmation: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit, JD-CV-40, and attach any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep the original Writ and documents and have a copy of the Writ and documents, and the Instructions to Defendant, form JD-CV-121, delivered to each defendant. When you receive the tracking information showing delivery, file the original Writ and documents, a Statement of Service form, JD-CV-123, for each defendant, and the delivery confirmation(s) with the court.
  • By a proper officer, for example, a marshal: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit, JD-CV-40, and attach any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep a copy of the Writ and documents; give the original Writ and documents, and the Instructions to Defendant, form JD-CV-121, to the officer to serve (deliver); after the officer serves (delivers) the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit, he or she will file the original Writ and documents with the court along with his or her return of service (a written statement describing how the writ was served).
  • The Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit must be returned to the court not later than one (1) month after the date of service.
  • When the clerk receives the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit, the clerk will set an answer date and will send a notice to all plaintiffs or their representatives of the docket number and answer date. The clerk will also send an answer form that includes the docket number and answer date to each defendant at the address provided by the plaintiff.
  • 16. What happens after the answer date has passed?
    • Neither party needs to do anything at this point. The file will be reviewed

      by a magistrate who will decide if a decision can be made without a trial or if the case needs to be scheduled for a trial.

    17. When is a military affidavit about the defendant required to get a judgment?
    • If your case is against a person, you must say, under oath, whether the person is or is not in the military or naval service and how you know that. You will not be able to get a decision against a defendant who has not filed an answer unless you file an affidavit (a paper signed under oath) with the court that states facts showing that the defendant is not in the military or naval service.
    • You can find out if the person you are suing is in the military or naval service from the Defense Manpower Data Center or by using the following website if you have the first and last name of the person and the person’s date of birth or the person’s social security number. The website is: https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/scraHome.do. This web address must be typed exactly, including the “s” after the http. There is no fee for using this service. The statement provided by the website must be attached to an affidavit stating that the defendant is not in the military or naval service.
    • You can also get information about whether the person you are suing is in the military or naval service by mail, without charge, from:

      Defense Manpower Data Center

      Attn: Military Verification

      1600 Wilson Boulevard

      Suite 400

      Arlington, VA 22209-2593

      You must send the Defense Manpower Data Center the first and last name of the person you are suing and that person’s date of birth or social security number. You must also send the center an envelope with your address and a stamp on it.

    • If you do not know the date of birth of the person you are suing, and you do not know the social security number of the person you are suing, you will have to find out the military status of that person by asking a person who knows the person you are suing well to fill out an affidavit (written statement under oath), or by giving the place of the defendant’s full time employment in an affidavit of your own. For the affidavit, you can use court form JD-FM-178, Affidavit Concerning Military Service. which you can get on the Judicial Branch website or at the clerk’s office or court service center.
    • If you cannot find out if the person is in the military or naval service, you must tell that to the court. You must also tell the court what you did to try and find out. You will not be able to get a decision until you tell the court if the person is or is not in the service or until you post (give) a bond (an amount of money or a legal document promising to pay an amount of money) to protect the legal rights of the person you sued if that person is in the service. The amount of time the bond is kept depends on the kind of judgment that is entered.
    18. Where can I get more information?
    • Review the PDF booklet, How Small Claims Court Works - JDP-CV-45. which is available in every clerk's office that handles small claims cases. From time to time information in this booklet may change, such as fees, court locations and phone numbers. Please check this website in those specific areas to be sure that you have the most current information or contact the local small claims office.
    • Ask the small claims court clerk for information. The clerk CAN give you information. The clerk CANNOT give you legal advice.
    • Talk to an attorney. Check the Yellow Pages or call your local Lawyer Referral Service (run by the local Bar Association). If you are a low income individual, The Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc. may be able to help you. Their toll free number is 1-800-453-3320.

    Defendant's Options

    19. What do I do if I am sued in a small claims case and I want to defend myself?
    • File an Answer on or before the Answer Date that appears on the Answer form. Fill out the Answer form and return it by mail, fax or hand delivery to the clerk. Send a copy to each attorney or other representative of the plaintiff, or if the plaintiff is representing himself or herself, to the plaintiff and fill out the certification that you have done so.
    • If you disagree with the claim or the amount of money, check the box that says you disagree and explain briefly in writing why you believe you do not owe the money.
    • Attach copies of any documents that support your claim. For example, receipts, letters, contracts or leases.
    • You may also file a motion to transfer the case to the regular court docket. The motion must be filed according to the Practice Book in order to be granted. See Practice Book Section 24-21. The fee is $125.00.
    20. When should I file a counterclaim?
    • The counterclaim must be filed on or before the Answer Date or upon the granting of a motion to open judgment.
    • If you think the plaintiff owes you money, say so on the counterclaim.
    • There is a $90.00 filing fee.
    • You must pay the court clerk with cash, or with a check or money order made out to "Clerk of the Superior Court." If you pay in person, you may also pay by MasterCard or Visa.
    • If you hand-deliver the counterclaim to the court, and you plan to pay with a personal check, bring a valid state issued photo I.D. your photo driver's license; U.S. passport; or Military I.D.

    Your Day in Court

    21. Can I have a jury trial?
    • There are no jury trials in small claims.
    • You may, however, request a jury trial if you file a motion to transfer the case to the regular docket. See #14 above.
    22. Are small claims cases decided by judges?
    • No. Small claims cases are heard and decided by Magistrates who are lawyers appointed by the Chief Court Administrator. See C.G.S. § 51-193l .

    • In some cases, if the parties agree, small claims matters may be heard by a Commissioner who has been approved by the Chief Court Administrator to hear such matters.See C.G.S.§ 52-549a .

    Judgment and Post Judgment Activity

    23. How do I collect money if I win my case?
    • The court does not collect the money for you, but you can request that the clerk issue an execution. An execution authorizes you to hire a state marshal to attach a debtor’s wages, nonexempt personal property or a financial institution account. See List of state marshals .
    • Fill out an application for wage, property or financial institution execution. Include exemption forms for debtors who are natural persons and file with the court.
    • The following fillable forms are available on this website.
      • JD-CV-3 - Wage Execution Proceedings - Application, Order, Execution
      • JD-CV-3a - Exemption and Modification Claim Form, Wage Execution
      • JD-CV-5 - Property Execution Proceedings - Application, Order, Execution
      • JD-CV-5b - Exemption Claim Form, Property Execution
      • JD-CV-24 - Financial Institution Execution Proceedings – Judgment Debtor Who is a Natural Person, Application and Execution
      • JD-CV-24a - Exemption Claim Form, Financial Institution Execution
      • JD-CV-24N - Financial Institution Execution Proceedings Judgment Debtor Who is NOT a Natural Person, Application and Execution
    • An execution authorizes a state marshal to attach the debtor's wages, his or her nonexempt personal property or the debtor's financial institution account. (This does not include real estate.)
    • There is a $100.00 fee for each application.
    • A judgment may be enforced up to 10 years from the date of judgment.
    • You may also want to review Forms you may need to Collect on a Civil Judgment on this website.
    24. Can I appeal the decision?
    • A decision in a small claims court case cannot be appealed.
    25. Could a small claims decision (judgment) against me (the judgment debtor) affect my credit rating or appear on my credit report?
    • Small claims decisions (judgments) are public information and could appear on your credit report, affecting your credit rating. The laws controlling Consumer Credit Reports are contained in C.G.S. § 36a-695

      and the statutes that follow it. If you need documentation to dispute an item on your credit report with the Consumer Credit Reporting Agency, you may get copies from the court file in your case for a fee of $1.00 per page at the Centralized Small Claims office.
    • If you have a specific complaint about a Consumer Credit Reporting Agency you may make such a complaint to the Connecticut Banking Department, Consumer Credit Division ,

      260 Constitution Plaza, Hartford, CT 06103-1800. See C.G.S. § 36a-695

      .
    26. When may a judgment lien be placed on real property (real estate)?
    • A judgment lien may be placed on the land records in the town clerk's office in the town where the real property is located when a money judgment is unpaid under C.G.S. 52-380a

      . The cost of the judgment lien may be added to the judgment.
    • A judgment lien certificate must be signed by the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney.
    • From the time of the recording of the judgment lien certificate, the money judgment will be a lien on the judgment debtor's interest in the real property described.
    • The judgment lien will expire 20 years after the judgment was rendered unless the party claiming the lien starts an action to foreclose it within that period of time and follows the remaining requirements of the statute. For more complete information, see C.G.S. § 52-380a

      .
    27. Must I tell the court when the judgment owed to me is paid in full?
    • Yes. This is called a satisfaction of judgment and is a written notice that must be filed with the court when full payment has been made. The satisfaction notice must be filed within 90 days after full payment has been made. See Practice Book section 24-30 .

    Small Claims Case Lookup

    28. How can I find out information about a small claims case?

    Case information from Small Claims Courts is available, at the Small Claims Case Look-up. Small Claims case information may be searched by: party name, docket number, court calendar, attorney case list, attorney calendar, and attorney search.

    The data available displays information from Small Claims cases including all actions, except libel and slander, where the money damages claimed are not in excess of $5,000.00, or, in the case of landlord–tenant security deposit claims only, a doubled amount not in excess of $10,000.00. This case information is updated at the close of business; therefore it includes all information entered as of the previous workday. It is possible that some documents filed with the clerk may not yet have been entered into the Look-up. Check the Look-up at the end of the day today or tomorrow for the next update.

    Source: www.jud.ct.gov

    Category: Bank

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