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File in superior court for full amount ($10,200) of unpaid loan or file in small claims ($7,500) waiving the $2,700?

Los Angeles, CA |

Friend has stopped making payments on agreed amount of $350 a month for a car/personal loan. The original loan amount was $12,500. I have a signed contract, copies of all checks received as payment, and receipts given. Is it easier and cheaper to waive part of loan and file in small claims? thanks!

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Attorney answers 4


It's usually easier, cheaper, and faster. But not always. Maybe if you sue in Superior Court, you'll scare your "friend" more into paying up, and they wouldn't be as scared of Small Claims court.

Before you decide whether and where to sue, send the friend a demand letter for amount they owe. Send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by FedEx or by registered email ( That way they know you're serious and you'll be able to prove their receipt. Warn them that once you sue, the lawsuit becomes a matter of public record, and give them a firm deadline, 2 or 3 days from their receipt of your letter, to pay you or you'll have to sue them. If they don't pay you by your deadline, follow through and sue.

If you don't think they can pay the whole debt all at once, maybe you just need to scare them into resuming the monthly payments. And maybe you can get some personal property, maybe the title of the car or something else of value, as security for the loan until it's paid in full.

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT, EMAIL ME OR PHONE ME. I'm only licensed in CA. This answer doesn't make me your lawyer, and neither do follow-up comments and/or emails and/or phone calls, and you shouldn't expect me to respond to your further questions if you haven't hired me. We need an actual agreement confirmed in writing before any attorney-client relationship is formed. This answer doesn't constitute legal advice, and shouldn't be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


Does the contract provide for attorney fees to the prevailing party in a civil dispute?


Waiving the $2700 and proceeding as a small claims case is going to be significantly FASTER and cheaper than a limited jurisdiction Superior Court action. In Los Angeles, a limited jurisdiction case might not get a trial date until 12 months from filing, whereas a small claims court case can go to trial as sooner as 30 to 45 days from filing.

What you give up in small claims (beyond waiving the $2,700), however, is the right to appeal if you lose as a plaintiff and the right to recover attorney's fees.

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 (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


it is quicker and easier and cheaper to file in small claims court. however, you will need to remit and waive anything over 7,500.00. This is a decision that you have to make once after doing a cost benefit analysis.