A few months back I had a question re: the following situation, and Kirk, from your group sent an answer. He thought my case might possibly warrant something more than what might be recovered through a small claims proceeding. I have contacted at least 3 PI attorneys in my area whose advertisements state they handle Product Liability, but the receptionists always say the they don't handle such cases as mine. Still I know my injury at least warrants a small claims action, but I don't know how to go about serving Redken as they are back in New York, or who at Redken should be served. Can you please tell me just how to go about getting a small claims suit started... My situation is as follows: In July I used Redken's Deep Fuel Strengthening Hair Product, and almost immediately after application, the product fused my hair into a thick hair ball a bit larger, and at least as thick as my fist, right at the crown and upper left side of my head. It was literally attached to my scalp, and the weight of it was extremely painful! It took almost two hours for me to work the hairball away from my scalp, trying to retain as much length as possible, clipping little portions of hair as I went until I finally got the thing off my head. My scalp was extremely inflamed, requiring visits to the Dermatologist who expressed there was trauma to the scalp creating this inflamation. Upon contacting Redken, they tried to dismiss responsibility siting user error, or that possibly my hair loss might be due to internal changes. They did agree to consider payment for an initial consult with the dermatologist. (I have Insurance, and the Doctor had already billed it.# Upon receipt of my official complaint, along with several "before and after" pictures of my hair, as well as pictures of my inflamed scalp, they did offer to pay for 10 deep conditioning treatments at $50. each. However, my hairdresser of over 15 years said the hair that I managed to salvage at the crown of my head is burnt, it's dead, and no amount of conditioning will revive it. My hair before the use of this product was very long and naturally wavey, the length was far below my waist and was very thick. My hairdresser was so alarmed when she saw it, and she also made a call to Redken #per Paula, at Redken's request#. Unfortunatly she was treated in the same manner I was, which really upset her. She told me she told them that the hair in this hairball is fused, as if it were melted together, and the hair I was able to salvage is burnt and dead, and no way would it be revived by any amount of deep conditioning. She said she kept asking them what is Sue suppose to do about the fact that she no longer has long beautiful hair, and asked them if there's anyway they think they can fix that. She was very upset as she has always kept my hair so long, healthy and beautiful, and now it's so trashed and my scalp is so inflamed that I couldn't even have color to cover my grey. She had to cut what was left of the length on the hair that was lower on my head, where the product managed to miss, just to try and blend it with the chop job I had to do as I tried to release the hairball from my scalp ... As of March 7th, my dermatologist has determined that the inflamation has subsided enough so that I can finally use hair color again without risk of further irritation. However it was also determined that there still is no new hair growth #after 8 months# XXXXX the area of the trauma. My hair is very thin, as compared to what it once was, and there is a permanent part where the hair is thin and seperated #Lying flat against my scalp# XXXXX to what the Dermatologist described as tension. >>> To say the least, I know I have one year from the date of onset, which was July 23rd 2011 to file a lawsuit. Can you please help me get started, and also if there is some kind of local assistance, who might be able to physically help me see to it Redken is served, and my Small Claims action is filed properly #I live in Butte County, but am not far from Sacramento#, this information would also be most helpful. Can you also please tell me what Califonia's small claims recovery limit is... I am sure this is the way I'll have to go, as even if I could get an Attorney to take this, I'm sure there will be fees and other costs that I cannot afford. Thank you for your help. Sue
I've communicated with Paula at Redken, but our communications broke down. Please see details in letter submitted this date for status update
Hello, I am a personal injur defense attorney and I believe that I can provide you with some assistance with your issue. First off, depending on the severity of your injuries, disfigurement, and pain and suffering, you may not want to pursue this claaim in small claims court. It may be worth trying to find a personal injury attorney who will take your claim. Often times the bar association in your state can refer you to an attorney. Here is California's bar association website. http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/LawyerReferralServicesLRS.aspx.
However, if you wish to proceed in California Small Claims court, there are certain things you should be aware of. First, there is a limit of $10,000, wish is higher than many states, but may not fully compensate you, again depending on the extent of your injuries. Second, proceeding pro se (without an attorney) is not always advisable as Redken will hire, through its insurance carrier, experienced defense counsel to defend against your claim and look for every and any technicallity to get it dismissed. Small claims courts tend to be more consumer friendly, but they do enforce procedural rules. Along that line, in a product liability case where you're injured, you need to find out if the store where you bought the product belongs to a chain, and you need to find out who made the product. You may need to sue the store where you bought the product, the parent company that owns the store where you bought the product, the store chain if the store where you shopped is part of a franchise, and the manufacturer of the product. You need to figure out who owns each of the businesses. If you sue only an individual or 1 party and leave out the others, those who are sued can blame your injury on someone else and you may lose your case if the court finds a nonparty to be responsible. For a coporation, write the exact name of the corporation or limited liability company, as you know it, on the claim form. You need not name the individual owners of the corporation or limited liability company. Example: "Fourth Dimension Graphics, Inc., a corporation." If the corporation operates through a division, corporate subsidiary or fictitious business name, both should be listed. Example: "Middle Eastern Quality Petrol, a Delaware corporation, individually and doing business as Fast Gas, and Fast Gas."
Fourth, remember a statute of limitation will bar your claim if not filed within correct period of time. You have two years from the date of injury to file a products liability claim in California. Make sure you hit this deadline. Even once you file, you will have to have it served on the defendant. You can have court do so by certified mail, you can have it personally served by a constable or there are alternative services as a last resort.
Use the following websites for a wealth of information regarding a small claim suit in CA. Educate yourself and do it the rirght way if you are proceeding without an attorney. If you do it the wrong way, you may have your case thrown out. http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm. http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/file.shtml#name
If this information was helpful, please hit "ACCEPT" so that I can be compensated. It is the only way that I get paid. If you need further assiatance or have follow questions, please let me know. I would be glad to help. -Mike
Personal Injury/Insurance Defense Trial Attorney
I took your advice and consulted with a PI attorney who has advised me to take my case to Small Claims. He did say I'd have a good case there, but due to the costs that would be involved for expert witnesses, it would be better to do it this way. I know Redken is a L'Oreal company. In my lawsuit do I name L'Oreal or Redken, or both, and can you tell me in the state of California who is the agent for service of process for this company? Also, I purchased the redken product in So. Calif.... Because Redken's consumer affairs rep told me I should be suing the beauty supply store I purchased the product from, can I also name them in this suit?
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