Tell me more about the Small Claims Court limit –
Claim Splitting and the rule that you can’t just sue someone two or more times to get around the limit.
Definition – Claim Splitting lectlaw.com Dividing a single or indivisible claim or cause of action into separate parts and bringing separate suits upon it, either in the same court , or in separate courts or jurisdictions.
Small Claims Adviser Los Angeles 213.974.9759
Laws Against Claim Splitting – Preclusion – Res Judicata
- Rule: If judgment is rendered in favor of a plaintiff in a particular suit, the plaintiff is precluded from raising claims (in any future litigation) which were raised in (or could have been raised) in that lawsuit.
- Elements: Before a court will apply the doctrine of res judicata to a claim,threeelementsmust be satisfied:
- There must have been prior litigation in which identical claims were raised (or could have been raised). In general, claims are sufficiently identical if they are found to share a “common nucleus of operative fact.”
- Scope: Res judicata bars relitigation of claims that were previously litigated as well as claims that could have been litigated in the first lawsuit. sparknotes.com lectlaw caught.net
Scroll down to bottom of page to see all citations
Allstate v Rapton – waiver of damages over $5k limit, res judicata
Small Claims Judges Manual Claim Splitting
You cannot divide a claim into 2 or more claims (called claim splitting) just to avoid the limit…..Or, lower the amount you ask for and give up (or waive) the rest. That way you can keep your claim in Small Claims court.
Amount Sued for?
1542 engage mediation.com
§6.14 Res Judicata
Under the doctrine of res judicata, a small claims court judgment is a bar to a second suit on the same cause of action. [Pitzen v Superior Court (2004) 120 CA4th 1374, 1381; Allstate Ins. Co. v Mel Rapton, Inc. (2000) 77 CA4th 901, 905.]
A small claims judgment for a plaintiff, however, is not given collateral estoppel issue-preclusion effect on other actions against the defendant. It would be unfair to have plaintiff’s choice of small claims court bind the defendant when the record does not fully reflect the issues raised and decided there. [Sanderson v Niemann (1941) 17 C2d 563, 573–574.]
But a defendant may raise collateral estoppel issue preclusion if the defendant prevailed in a previous small claims action. There is no rationale for refusing to afford collateral estoppel effect to issues litigated and decided against a plaintiff. Fundamental fairness dictates that a plaintiff who chose to litigate in small claims court cannot cite the informality of that forum to gain a second chance to litigate a decided issue. Relitigating decided issues is also inconsistent with the public policy that a small claims plaintiff is bound by an adverse judgment. [Bailey v Brewer (2011) 197 CA4th 781, 790–791; Pitzen v Superior Court (2004) 120 CA4th 1374, 1386.]
If you do try to unlawfully collect a debt by claim splitting – you might get busted under Fair Debt Collection Laws!