Good morning. Unfornately, $16,500 is too large amount to sue in small claims court, so you will need to bring this suit in civil district court. If you transacted business with them long distance...you in CT and your client in CA, you can attempt to bring this suit in CT because there are adequate ties to allow that. The worse that could happen would be that the judge would allow a change in venue. You'd be no worse off. Also, if they are trying to sell the company, filing the suit as soon as possible would be great because in selling the company, the company is going to be required to disclose any lawsuits so this will probably accelerate their willingness to resolve this. The cost of actually filing the lawsuit will be relatively small....probably under $500. If it goes to trial, it could cost several thousand dollars, but your judgment would include your legal costs of suit.
I hope this has given you the guidance you were seeking. I wish you the best of luck!
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The information given here is not legal advice. As all states have different intricacies in their laws, the information given is general only. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you. I hope this answer has been helpful to you.