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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
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JB Umphrey: I have a follow-up question to my small-claims

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JB Umphrey: I have a follow-up question to my small-claims question. I have filled in all the required forms but have a few final questions.1. I live in San Francisco, but the American Airlines agent is in LA. Is it okay to sue in San Francisco court since that is "where the buyer or lessee signed the contract, lives now or lived when the contract was made, if this claim is about an offer or contract for personal, family, or household, goods services or loans"?2. The contact for CT corporation, for serving AA is in Los Angeles. To serve them, do I simply send my forms via certified mail and wait for them to mail the receipt back? Or do I need to hire a process server or family member to physically bring the documents to their office?3. What is my next step? Do I bring the forms into the courthouse in SF and then serve the American Airlines agent or is it the other way around?Thanks in advance!
Thank you for the follow-up.
1. According to the CA Courts, "You can file in the county where you signed the contract, where the contract was broken, or where the contract was to be carried out. You can also file where the defendant lived or worked when you signed the contract."
2. The server must be at least 18 and not listed in the case. He or she can be:
A friend, relative, or co-worker.
A "process server," who is someone you pay to deliver court forms. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Process Serving."
The local sheriff (or marshal if your county has one) can also deliver court forms. Look for your local sheriff online or ask the court clerk how to contact the sheriff. Or look in the county section of your phone book under "Sheriff." You must pay the sheriff, unless you qualify for a fee waiver.
There are 3 different ways to serve someone in a small claims case:
Personal Service
Ask your server to personally "serve" (give) a copy of your court papers to the person you are suing or to the agent legally authorized to accept court papers for the person, business, or public entity you are suing.
Tell the server to:
Walk up to the person to be served.
Say, "These are court papers."
Give the person copies of all the court papers. If the person will not take the papers, just leave them near the person. It does not matter if the person tears them up or throws them away.
Fill out the Proof of Service (Small Claims) (Form SC-104), sign it on page 2, and return the completed form to you so that you can file it.
Substituted Service
If the person you have to serve is not at home or work when your server goes there, your server can give the court papers to:
A competent adult (at least 18) living at the home with the person to be served; or
An adult who seems to be in charge where the person to be served usually works; or
An adult who seems to be in charge where the person receives mail
Your server also has to:
Tell the person he or she is leaving the court papers with to give them to the person you are suing.
Write down the name of the person he or she gave the court papers to. If the person will not give his or her name, your server must write down a physical description of the person who took the papers.
Mail another copy of the court papers by first-class mail to the person you are suing at the same address where your server left the papers.
Fill out the Proof of Service (Small Claims) (Form SC-104), and sign it on page 2. The server MUST also fill out and sign the Proof of Mailing (Substituted Service) (Form SC-104A) for the second step of mailing a copy of the Plaintiff's Claim. Once the server fills out both forms, he or she must return the completed forms to you so you can file them with the clerk.
Service by Certified Mail by the Court Clerk
You can pay the court clerk to mail your claim to the person you are suing by certified mail. This can be very convenient and the fee is low.
But this type of service can also be very unreliable. The court will probably not accept it and will make you serve again (with personal or substituted service) if:
The person you are suing or the person's agent for service does not sign the certified mail receipt with his or her complete name;
The judge cannot read the signature on the certified mail receipt and cannot tell who signed it; or
Someone else signs the receipt.
3. You file the claim with the courthouse then you serve it on the defendant. The order of steps is explained here:
My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business!
~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi,This is just verbatim what's on the website, which I already read. I'm asking you to make it clear in layman's terms what my best option is here.
Thank you for the follow-up. Are you asking if one procedural choice is better than the other?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
What I am asking is:1. If I (the plantiff) purchased airline tickets on American Airlines in San Francisco, where I live, can I sue them in San Francisco court for breaking that contract?2. What is the best way for me to go about serving the AA agent in Los Angeles - it sounds like it's better for me to ask someone I know in Los Angeles to go to their address and serve them personally?3. What is the order in which these things need to happen? do I (a) need to take the SC-100 form to the SF courthouse and have it processed and then serve the AA agent or (b) serve the agent first, then submit my claim to the courthouse.Thanks!
Honestly, if it were me, I'd first file my complaint electronically with the Department of Transportation using this form and try to get the matter resolved that way.
If that didn't work out, then I'd go the small claims route and file in the court that is most convenient for me.
As for service, under the rules, you cannot serve them. You have to have someone do it for you.
And, as for your third point, as I previously said, you file the lawsuit then have it served. You cannot serve it and then file. Courthouse first, then service.
I hope this helps to clarify your options.
~~ J.B.
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