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With at least one Small Claims Court in each of New York State's 62 counties--including at least one in each of New York City's five boroughs--filing a small claims case is easy. Winning is the hard part.
Currently, the jurisdictional maximum for small claims cases is $3000 for Town or Village Courts and $5000 for City Courts. Because the procedural rules are somewhat relaxed, you don't need to be represented by counsel. However, despite the relative informality of the process, you are still required to prove your case. One of the ways to do that is to bring sufficient documentary evidence to court with you.
Experts recommend that you bring photographs, written agreements, receipts, an itemized bill or invoice marked "paid," written estimates of repair or service costs, canceled checks, credit card (or other pertinent) statements, correspondence and such other documentation that will establish your claim or defense. If your case rests on estimates, bring at least two of them.
Presentation of an incomplete or "defective" case can result in the denial of your claim. And that was the end result in Hickey v. T & E Service Station. In that particular dispute, Edward Hickey sued his auto repair shop for damages arising from "defective auto repair." Although the Kings County Civil Court awarded Hickey $3000 on his claim, the Appellate Term, 2nd and 11th Judicial Districts, reversed and dismissed Hickey's case in its entirety. Since the governing rules--CCA 1804--required Mr. Hickey to present at least two estimates, his "submission of one repair estimate failed to establish his damages for the cost to repair his truck."
For a copy of the Appellate Term's decision in Hickey v. T & E Service Station, please click on the following link:
For a helpful overview, download a copy of the New York City Civil Court's publication entitled "A Guide to Small Claims Court," by clicking on the following link: