My fiancee (Mr. C) is a regional manager at an automotive repair shop in San Diego. He was just served for a small claims case for non-payment. He contacted the legal firm that is representing the plaintiff and was told that the actual owner of the business (Mr. P) had claimed that Mr. C was the actual owner and not him to avoid being sued. My question is: 1.Can Mr. C request and be provided the documentation which Mr. P must have provided stating that Mr. C is the Owner? 2.What is the most effective way of proving Mr. C is not the owner? 3.What action can he take against Mr. P if he did submit legal documents saying that Mr. C was the owner? 4.Was Mr.P perjuring himself if he submitted forged or falsified documents to the plaintiff's attorneys?
Please disregard the above email, I did not know that it was in violation of AVVO's terms. Company who served my fiancee was PennySaver or council for them. on the legal paperwork it has the name of the business following his name. I have the actual case number if that would be more helpful as it can be seen on the Superior Court of OC website
I agree that lawyers do not "represent" in Small Claims Court, but they are allowed to help prepare a Plaintiff for a small claims action (helping with documents and advising on trial preparation). A law firm has an affirmative duty to file actions after an investigation and in good faith. If the business is owned by a Corporation or LLC for example, this information is easily located on the California Secretary of State site and a lawyer would do this to confirm a proper defendant as well as an agent for service of process. An employee is NOT properly sued in an action against the business (unless the employee did some independent act to create liability) and if you confront the lawyer with the concept of wrongful institution of legal proceedings and the fact that the wrongfully sued individual will seek costs (i.e. the filing fee) hopefully they will recant. Even if an individual is wrongfully named in an action, they should file an answer as they will face a default if they do nothing.
Lawyers aren't allowed to appear in Small Claims cases except for corporate employees, and virtually no plaintiffs hire lawyers to represent them to prepare. And any company big enough to have a "regional manager" is the one that would be sued, not any individual. No lawyer representing a plaintiff would tell a defendant that such defendant was the wrong party --they'd just sue the right party since they obviously know who it is.
I think you should do your own homework, or whatever it is you're doing.
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It's true that attorneys cannot generally appear in small claims matters, but that's not really the point here. Most company ownership records are "internal" documents, meaning that they cannot be obtained from the publice records. You should obtain from the SOS the most recently filed Statement of Informatoin, but this will only identify the company offiers and directors. Still, this is helpful if you are not one of them. I suggest that you write a letter to the plaintiff confirmin you having advised them that you are not an owner and requesting copies of whatever documents they have, if any. You can also ask Mr. P. If you still have to go to court, simply tell the judge the truth. Certainly, the plaintiff's will have no real evidence of any ownership interest by you. Moreover, If they do not provide you with documents you requested, the judge is not going to be very sympathetic to them. Finally, it sounds like Mr. C will only be liable if the plaintiff can "peirce the corporate veil," which is not easy task in small claims court. Mr. C may very well have some legal claims against Mr. P (his employer?), but that's another matter.
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