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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I wish to sue in small claims court for defaulting on a contract

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I wish to sue in small claims court for defaulting on a contract in FL. The defendant moved out of town and I don't have an address for him, but I can contact him by email. Because the default amount is so high, I want to suggest to him that he establish a mailing address in a TN county that pays out higher than CA and then sue him there. Is there anything wrong in trying to sue that way?

Thank you for your question.

There are several major issues with your scenario.

First of all, how much money are your damage?

Second, why do you believe that the defendant would cooperate with you on establishing jurisdiction in Tennessee? Does the defendant have any ties to Tennessee?

Third, do you need witnesses to prove the case? If so, how will they get to court in Tennessee? The court has no jurisdiction over out of state witnesses.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It is a contract to lease a group of items with a payment/amortization schedule. He only paid the first interest payment amount over a period of time with very little going to principal. His balance due is over $30,000. I know small claim limit in CA is only $10K and if there were a way to make two suits out of this, I would only get a total of $20K. Because he and his girlfriend is in the entertainment business and she has performed in TN at one time, if I can convince him to set up residency (maybe use those postal mail drop business where they sign for packages, letters, etc) in Memphis, TN, my searches indicate that small claim limits is $25,000, and I will settle for that. If this is legally possible, I would try to convince him to do so since I hope to go on a TV court show (if accepted) and get paid immediately and this would be his 1 shot at "15 minutes of fame" for his act, this will finally get settled and he would not have to pay out of pocket to have this contract over and done with. And yes, I can get a witness to TN with no problem.

Thanks for your response.

The CA limit on small claims cannot be evaded by attempting to split the damage claim in two. A claim cannot be divided in this way. Thus, your plan to get into TN small claims court is the only workable option you have presented.

Someone can volunatarily submit to the jurisdiction of the TN small claims court through an agreement to do so. It would not require that there be actual residency if you can do it through an agreement wherein you both agree to submit the dispute to the jurisdiction of the court and he waives service of process for the lawsuit.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks! So we use our personal addresses, me in Fl, him in CA and the TN courts will hear us without the out of town addresses being an issue?

That's correct, as long as both of you consent to the jurisdiction of the TN court in a signed writing (an email will not suffice).

Now, each small claims court may not fully understand the jurisdictional law, so you may encounter some initial pushback on the address issue. If that is the case, you will need to either get a PO box or agent for delivery of court documents. This is not a legal requirement, but court clerks at the small claims court may not always cooperate.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much! I 'm glad I stumbled across this site. You've been a great help to me.


Thanks again.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating positively does not cause an additional charge and does not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best regards,
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