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Can a plaintiff be designated as his DBA (fictitious business name) exclusively or must he also include his "real" name?

Los Angeles, CA |

Hello everyone and thanks for reading. Although authorities would be preferred, any helpful advice will get positive feedback (and perhaps even business).

The following is with respect to California state trial courts. If Joe Average has a valid DBA / fictitious business name for "Joe's Pizza", can he file suit as just "Joe's Pizza, plaintiff"? I have seen captions say, for example, "Joe's Pizza d/b/a Joe Average" but I would like to omit the Joe Average portion. I cannot find any authority which specifically addresses this point, so my hope is that this style is a manner of custom as opposed to binding authority. I'm fully aware that anyone can look up who the DBA is registered to, but I would prefer to keep it out of the court filings if possible.

Thanks again and have a good one!

Attorney Answers 2


In the Superior Court of California, you should be able to not mention the "dba" in the caption of the complaint, so long as you allege in the body of the allegations in the complaint that the name is a fictitious business name.

The important thing before filing the complaint is that you in fact did file a fictitious business name statement, as required by Business and Professions Code section 17918, which provides, in part: "No person transacting business under a fictitious business name contrary to the provisions of this chapter, or his assignee, may maintain any action upon or on account of any contract made, or transaction had, in the fictitious business name in any court of this state until the fictitious business name statement has been executed, filed, and published as required by this chapter...."

However, in small claims court, you have to fill out and file a form SC-103:

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I represented creditors in lawsuits in California who did not want their names to be connected with the name of a lawsuit. The easy way to avoid having your name as plaintiff is to assign your rights to someone else who then sues. Under this method, the lawsuit's caption would include neither Joe nor Joe's business. Look for stuff relatingf to "assignment" if you want to pursue this theory yourself without hiring a lawyer. If you decide to hire a lawyer, bring this idea up with them.

Good luck!

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