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What are New York Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?

In New York, small claims cases are legal actions about disputes of no more than $10,000. The state’s small claims courts typically hear these cases, and only individuals more than 18 years of age are eligible to file claims of this nature. On the other hand, class-action lawsuits are consolidated legal actions or cases in which one defendant of the class represents all the others who were injured, hurt, or wronged in a similar or the same manner. Any state or federal court in New York can resolve class-action lawsuits. Some of these suits include those involving investment fraud, defective products from pharmaceutical companies, consumer protection, etc.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. (Including information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused of)

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What Cases are Heard by Small Claims Courts in New York?

Small Claims Courts have different limitations depending on their location and jurisdiction. As such, small claims courts in the city may hear cases whose claims do not exceed $5000 while village and town courts hear small claims cases where the claim does not exceed $3000. Ultimately, the maximum judgment that can be awarded for a case is $10000, and splitting a claim into different parts to get around the limit is prohibited. Below are some cases heard by small claims courts in New York;

  • Harm to vehicles, private possessions, immovable property or individuals.
  • Complaints regarding Organisations are failing to offer adequate services and maintenance.
  • Refusal to repay loans, properties, securities, or deposits
  • Bounced or stopped check.
  • Individuals refusing to pay for services provided, insurance claims, wages, rents, commissions, or for products sold and supplied.
  • Violation of rent, agreement, guarantee, or contract.
  • Loss of belongings, cash, and property

Note that Small Claims Courts can only grant money judgments, and this does not involve asking the defendant to provide services.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit in New York?

Class action lawsuits, also known as a representative action, involve a group who were wronged similarly. One member of the class, together with their attorney, represents this group in court. As contained in NY CVP § 901 of the New York Consolidated Laws, an individual can represent a group when filing a class action lawsuit if:

  • Due to the large size of the class, it becomes impossible for each person to file their suits.
  • Every plaintiff of the class has a common question of law and fact.
  • Every plaintiff of the class has a common claim or defense.
  • The individual representative of the class can sufficiently protect the interest of its members.
  • After considering other alternatives, the best way to resolve the controversy is through a class action.

How do I File a Claim in a New York Small Claims Court?

According to Section 1803 of the Civil Court Act, claimants can begin their case by paying the filing fee at the clerk’s office. The fee is $20 for small claims above $1000 and $10 for claims below $1000. Claimants may locate a small claim court in New York or use the e-filing system provided by private vendors. The accepted forms of payment are cash, money order, certified check, or bank check, which should be written to “Clerk of the Civil Court.” The claimant will be required to fill the Statement Of Claim Form. Important details needed in completing the form include:

  • Correct personal address of the person or corporation being sued.
  • Reason for the lawsuit,
  • Amount of claim

The clerk will set up a hearing, which is often scheduled for 6:30 pm every business day. The date and time can be rescheduled for persons working at the time. Disabled people and aged citizens are also allowed to request for rescheduling. When requesting to reschedule the hearing, the claimant must submit the proof in the form of a birth certificate or letter from the place of work.

Notification of a small claim will be sent to the defendant. The notification will include the date of hearing, the reason for the claim, the amount of the claim, and the claimant. All this must be sent within four months of filing the case. Otherwise, the case will be dismissed. The defendant may also want to file a counterclaim or proceed to trial.

Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?

Attorneys provide legal advice on specific fields of law. A business lawyer, for instance, can give information on business or corporate claims. Lawyers also guide their clients through the small claim criteria and may represent them in court. However, it is not necessary to have a small claim lawyer in New York when filing a claim. This is because the rules of the court proceedings are considered relatively simpler than in other lawsuits. An attorney can be considered when filing a commercial small claim case. Also, it is ideal to hire a lawyer if the defendant is represented. This can increase the plaintiff’s chances of winning the case.

How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in New York?

In New York, class action suits begin when a class/plaintiff representative lodges a lawsuit on behalf of the class plaintiffs who have sustained the same injury or loss. This is usually done at the appropriate state or federal court within the jurisdiction of their residence, or where the incident occured.

After the lawsuit has been filed, the appointed plaintiff(s) or members must obtain class certification. Members who decide to be part of the case no longer have the right to petition the defendant in single party action. To obtain class certification, the court evaluates the commonality of the claims and the number of members in the class. This must meet certain requirements which include a common and legitimate allegation. In addition, individual suits must prove impossible, and the appointed members must defend the interests of the entire class and not themselves.

The civil lawsuits process begins when the court has approved the class, with both parties submitting their pretrial motions and discovery, and proceed to settlement negotiations. Suppose the settlement talks do not produce a positive outcome for either party, in that case, the class action lawsuit will be brought before a judge or jury, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. If the judge or jury considers the accused guilty of the claims, then the amount to be paid to the plaintiff will be determined and be rewarded to all class members. The compensation paid to the class is then divided by all the plaintiffs’ representatives to put the class action case to an end.

Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?

Class actions may seem favorable than single-party suits in some ways. For instance, class action cases are cheaper for litigation because all lawsuits are put together and pursued as one rather than litigating individually. Filing costs and lawyer’s fees are split by the various parties involved in the class action, while the plaintiff alone pays all of these costs in a single party suit.

Also, resolutions and decisions are made quicker than in single-party litigation. This is because it is easier for the judge to examine the lawsuits at once than separately. And in a situation where there are multiple claimants with identical allegations, a single-party suit filed may take years before any meaningful resolution is reached.

Class action suits appear to be more productive because all claimants are paid after reaching an agreement. Relative to the litigation costs, the representatives seek a substantial remedy compared to a single-party action payment. In single-party cases, much of the time, the victims earn no payments, and if they do, it is surpassed by the legal expenses.

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