violations or can I file a separate FDCPA lawsuit, through a lawyer, in federal court while the small claims case is still open?
Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
First you should consult with an attorney familiar with FDCPA matters immediately. There are not enough facts provided in your post to subvert you need for an initial consultation with counsel. If you case is strong you should definitely file a claim in Federal Court under the FDCPA which may preempt the small claims action all together. There are time lines in litigation so you should get going on this right away.
If you are a potential client, the information you disclose to us by email will be kept in strict confidence and will be protected to the full extent of the law. Please be advised, however, that the Law Offices of Frank M. Nunes, Inc. and its lawyers do not represent you until you have signed a retainer agreement with the firm. Until that time, you are responsible for any statutes of limitations or other deadlines for your case or potential case.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
It depends. You can actually file it in the state court. My concern is that you may actually have to file your counter claim under the doctrine of compulsory counterclaim. In other words, if you don't, you may be precluded from asserting it later. However, it gets complicated and it's best you consult an attorney.
My answers are not to be taken as legal advice. They are for informational purposes only and based on the limited information that is put forth by the Asker. Moreover, no attorney-client relationship is formed. Should you need legal advice, I suggest consulting a local attorney either by phone or in person.
Debt Collection Attorney
You can file the FDCPA claim in either state court or federal court. See 15 U.S.C. 1692k. Many times state court is better than federal court because you can conduct more discovery and you do not need a unanimous jury verdict. This is why many creditors, when sued for a FDCPA violation, remove the case to federal court. The FDCPA case is not a "compulsory counterclaim".