We were constructively evicted due to a severe, undisclosed habitability issue and plan to sue the landlord for costs, above and beyond the security deposit, which he refuses to return. Due to the very expensive rent charged, the amounts in play (security deposit before any penalty, moving costs, hotel costs and rent paid while we could not live in the home) exceed the $10,000 small claims limit by 4-5 times. We are considering small claims as the financial impact of the situation has left us in a tough spot, so legal fees will be hard to raise. LL was nasty and legalistic during and after our tenancy (we got a RO because of his behavior) and I am 100% confident he would appeal. I am wondering, if we sue successfully in small claims and he appeals, are we bound to the $10K limit?
The current small claims limit for claims by individuals is $10,000. If the defendant appeals an adverse judgment, to the Superior Court it does not increase the small claims limit.
I agree with Mr. Kane. Although an appeal by a defendant creates a de novo appeal in the Superior Court (and lawyers may even participate), it does not lift the small claims cap. By choosing the small claims forum as a plaintiff, you waive the right to sue for more.
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Small claims is limited to $10,000 regardless of whether it was an appeal to the Superior Court. The Small Claims Court has a Small Claims Adviser who is free, so consult with that person ASAP.
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Sound advice above, but if your damages easily exceed the amount, why not look for a contingency lawyer?
If the landlord has the money and is in the wrong, someone may take up your cause.
Many firms, including mine, will take matters on contingency. Shop around and see if any are interested in your case.
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