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Who do I name for small claims suit?

El Segundo, CA |
Filed under: Home improvements

I canceled a California home improvement contract within the 3 days allowed. I had given an excessive down payment and the contractor has not returned anything after 6 months. I signed the contract with an unlicensed salesperson. All my communication has been email with a person who claims to be the owner, he is listed as owner on the Anaheim business license. But, the contractor's license lists a different person as the sole owner and no one else is listed by the CSLB as an officer, employee or salesperson. I have never met or communicated with this person. Then, when I checked the ficticious business name, a third different person is listed as the owner. The 1st owner finally admitted they were all partners. Should I sue them as a partnership, or if as an individual, which one?

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Sue each of the individuals. By the way, before you do so, you may wish to contact the licensee and making a final demand for reimbursement. Tell them they will be sued in small claims court and following a successful judgment you will be contacting the state licensing board for licensing improprieties. Do not say "pay or else" - that is extortion.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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Michael Charles Doland

Michael Charles Doland

Posted

Perhaps if a lawyer made the call for you, they might phrase it in a totally correct way, but I understand the economics may prevent this.

Asker

Posted

Do you mean a separate case for each individual, or name all of them on one suit? I did send a registered demand letter to the "owner" at the business address, but not to the licensee. Do I need to repeat this to the licensee? Also, I have filed a complaint to the CSLB and the case has been assigned to an investigator, along with several other complaints. Might have a hard time collecting even if I get a judgement, but I'm going to do it anyway. I am receiving a partial payment from the contractor's bond, but I had to share it with other claims.

Asker

Posted

For the record, there is a 4th "owner". I think there is a $35 charge to have the local sheriff serve the notices. I assume I can add those costs to the suit?

Posted

If you are suing in small claims court, I would suggest naming all three individuals as defendants.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

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Posted

I agree that you should sue all three. Since you have been sending emails to the business, I would suggest that you write a demand for payment to all three so that you can present that to the court when you appear there.

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Posted

The burden is on the Plaintiff to prove to the court that you received $700 from him. If he has no proof that he gave you $700 or witnesses the Court is not going to reccomend any relief. If you receive an unfavorable result you can appeal their decision and have a trial de novo in Superior Court.

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Asker

Posted

Don't know what this has to do with my question. Looks like a misplaced answer.