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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I am suing in small claims court and I need advice about jurisdiction: I

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I am suing in small claims court and I need advice about jurisdiction:
I emailed someone (I was in Los Angeles when I originated the email) who owes me money, and made an offer to accept a lower total amount if she paid me in monthly amounts beginning immediately, thus creating an offer…she emailed back (I do not know where she was when she responded to the email, but she lives in another state…) the same day stating “ I will try to get it out tomorrow,” and I received a check from her shortly thereafter. However, she failed to continue monthly payments as per our newly-formed agreement…
I plan to sue her in small claims court as a breach of contract action concerning the newly formed contract…can I sue her in my jurisdiction of Los Angeles??? If not, where should I sue her???
Please cite any law, as I may need to provide it to the judge…
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your question.

Where you have an out of state defendant, you have to establish that California has jurisdiction over her under the California long arm statute. This statute will apply if you can establish that the Defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with California so that she could expect to be under California's jurisdiction.

The question is really going to center around what she paid you for. Can you explain this further to me?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am the father of her son...I had excess child support that I paid to a support collection unit that was then paid to her...when my support payments were eventually lowered, the support colection unit wrote that I had over paid, but that we had to work it out between ourselves...the collection unit had no abilty to lower future payments to compensate...As a consideration for her repaying me voluntarily, I lowered the amount, thus creating a new contract...The chils was conceived in California and she used to live here until she moved...

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Answer came too late.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Answer came too late.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for your response and I apologize for the delay.

Was the order commanding child support also in California too?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The child support order is from a New York court...She, however knew when she responded to my offer that I lived in California, so she intentionally responded, forming a contract, with a California resident...would this fullfill the minimum contact requirment???
Expert:  TexLaw replied 3 years ago.

A single contact like this is not going to fulfill the minimum contact requirement under the long arm statute. There must be a "purposeful availment" of California through seeking to enter into a contract, which usually requires that services be rendered in California or that a substantial transaction occur in California. The contract you formed via email is not enough.

If you file the suit in small claims court, the judge may simply dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

As that is the case, you would need to file the small claims suit in the court nearest her residence.
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