Legal Question in Civil Litigation in California

appeal in small claims court

I won a judgment in Small Claims Court and the defendant has appealed.

If the judgment is overturned what is the maximum amount the court can order me to pay?

If the judgment stands, what is the maximum amount I can receive?

Is it necessary for me to hire an attorney?

Asked on 4/11/09, 7:10 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: appeal in small claims court

1. Unless the defendant filed a cross-complaint, the court can only order you to pay his costs even if he wins outright. Those costs may include some attorney fees if he has a right to recover such fees, either under a statute or under the terms of a contract if the lawsuit arises under a contract with an attorney fee clause.

If the defendant did file a cross-complaint, the court may award him the amount he sought (up to $7,500) plus interest, along with the costs and fees mentioned earlier.

2. The judgment will not "stand". The appeal is a trial de novo, which means it is as if the first trial never occurred.

The most the court can award you is the amount you sought in the complaint (up to a maximum of $7,500) plus interest and costs. Here again, those costs may include attorney fees under some circumstances.

3. Attorneys are allowed, but not required, in small claims appeals. You may want to get one, especially if you think the defendant will bring one.

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Answered on 4/11/09, 7:26 pm

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