I did work for a man, he didn't pay, I took him to Small Claims Court for $900 and the judge awarded me $600. This man appealed, it is now going to Civil Court downtown and I'm told I have to be represented by a lawyer. 1. I don't have the money to hire a lawyer and 2. I was told that a pro-bono lawyer probably wouldn't take it for such a small amount. Did this guy just win by appealing the case???
There is no rule preventing you from representing yourself, but it is always better to have an attorney when you are downtown. It's a relatively small amount, but it sounds like the case is pretty straightforward. The case could be handled on a contingency basis. That is, the lawyerbisnt paid unless you're paid.
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If you sued as a business, then the rules require that you have a lawyer. If you sued in your personal capacity, then you don't need a lawyer to proceed.
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Civil Rights Attorney
He might be playing that game and taking his chances. Marion County is the odd county in Indiana that does it that way. If you appeal, you then go into state court. In other counties, you actually have to appeal to the appellate court and it is much more expensive to appeal that way. Do you have good documentation on your case? If you do, I agree with my colleagues, perhaps there might be a fraud claim involved, and you can ask for treble (three times) your damages and increase the final amount in your prayer for relief and also request attorney's fees. (There are some exceptions to this and it will depend upon how things were filed, but I am talking in theory). If you believe it is a "frivolous" appeal, you can also make this same request for attorney's fees. Also, your $600 was probably reduced to a judgment, so depending upon how the order is written, you could (and should) be collecting interest at 8% per annum from the entry date of the order. I agree with my colleagues--you can represent yourself in your individual capacity, but if you sued in your LLC (or however your business is set up), you need to have a lawyer represent you. Keep in mind, if he is a business, he will also have to pay a lawyer and he will end up paying the lawyer more money than if he just paid you--so he might just be trying to see how far he can push it. He has to also pay a transfer fee, etc., so I wouldn't back down if I were you. (And even if he is not a business, state court is a bit more complicated than small claims court and we do not suggest navigating it without a lawyer.) If you were in the right, and you have documentation and evidence to back it up ~ fight for your rights. As a little tip, make sure that you have potential clients sign contracts, and in the event of a dispute, non-payment, or otherwise, if it needs to go to court, the will have to pay attorney's fees ~ then if you have a strong case, and attorney will for sure take it in the future. Best wishes to you!
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