Category Archives: News

Man wins $850 from AT&T in Small Claims Court

Matt Spaccarelli sued AT&T in Ventura County Small Claims Court and won!  Matt’s argument was that AT&T was throttling his cellphone’s unlimited data plan to a speed that made it unusuable.  As you know, AT&T would not be allowed an attorney, so they set an area representative.

The judge came up with the $850 dollar figure by estimating the cost for unlimited data at $85 (between the $100 Matt asked for and $65 the AT&T representative wanted) and multiplied it by the number of months remaining on the contract (arriving at $850).

Matt said he was throttled because he was in the top 5% of data users.  Matt uses his smartphone to project Netflix onto a screen so that he can watch at night.

Here is Matt on Fox News explaining his case:

After his win, Matt helped his brother file a case against AT&T, as his brother was also a victim of this throttling.  This time the case was filed in Los Angeles County Small Claims Court.

Again, here a, we love to see people using small claims court and applying it to new situations, like this.  Generally, when we hear cell phone contract disputes, we are used to hearing the user getting nickel and dimed or surprised by the monthly bill when it comes.

An AT&T representative said it is currently evaluating whether to file an appeal.

Small Claims Court Rules Against Police in $5k Ruling

Kitchener Small Claims Court

We often think of small claims cases as involving money owed from one person to another because of a contract, rent, or something else.  But what is great and unique about small claims court cases across the states, and even in Canada, are that you can sue even for actions not on contract, called tort.

For example, in Kitchener, Ontario, a judge ordered police to pay a family $5,000 for damages in banning a family from their home while police executed a “wrongful search and seizure” of their home.  The family was left without food, clothes, money, and identification.  The family had to spend the entire weekend with neighbors because the police had their home cordoned off.  It took the police another three days after the weekend in order to obtain a legal search warrant.

As expected, the police are appealing the verdict, saying the family should only be entitled to $2,000 in compensation.

Check out the article for more information.  We will post what happens to the appeal on our site as soon as we hear.

Romney Endorses Small Claims Court

Mitt Romney approves Small Claims Court

Here at, we don’t generally get involved in politics, unless they effect small claims court laws throughout the states.  We did think this little exchange was worth noting for our readers:

ROMNEY: That might be something to go down to their office — big office in Boston — go sit in their front lobby and say ‘I’m gonna sit here until you sit down with me and look at these documents.”

PYRA: Occupy Bank of America?

ROMNEY: “Yeah, exactly. Yeah. If you are in the right, and you’ve got the documents to prove it, I’d go after them. The other thing you can do is file a suit against them.

PYRA: I can’t afford a lawyer, so –

ROMNEY: Ah, just file it in small claims court. Just say that they’ve been harassing you. If you’ve been making your payments, and you’ve got your documents, then you can show that, I’d go to small claims court and say these guys have been harassing me.

Quite often in situations like this, and you are in the right, it may be necessary to take a company or person to small claims court.  Before you jump to that, we recommend writing a demand letter first.  One tip people commonly forget is including a date by which you expect  response or some other action from the party.  Make sure it’s reasonable time for action, otherwise a court will not think you are being fair to the other party.

For more information, check out the original news article.

Small Claims Court Arrest


In an earlier post, we discussed briefly your demeanor in a small claims court case.  Regardless of what state you are in, you will impress the judge, the court, and the rest of the courtroom if you are prepared and polite.  Do NOT watch Judge Judy, the People’s Court, or any other show expecting to pick up tips.  Interrupting the judge, the opposing party, or anyone else will do nothing but frustrate the judge and make it all the more difficult for you to win your case.

We need look no further than 46-year-old man in Milwaukee County courthouse who was arrested after the commissioner dismissed his case (remember, a judge may not decide your case, it could be a commissioner or a judge pro tem).  Courtroom officials noted the man became combative, yelling profanities, and disrupting the hearings in the gallery.  He even continued resisting once a deputy began to make the arrest, headbutting the initial deputy.  This is a quick trip to jail (Milawaukee County Correctional Facility to be exact) and to lose your case.

By far you will make a better impression by being punctual, prepared, and polite.  This applies to everyone in the courthouse from the security personnel who screen you as you enter the facility, to the employees in the clerk’s office, to the court clerk and bailiff in the courtroom.  You show respect to the judge and the judicial procedure by treating these people with professionalism.  The court will treat you with respect and will require the opposing party to treat you with respect as well.

Visit the local news affiliate for more information on the Milwaukee County Small Claims Court incident.

California Small Claims Court Trends and Statistics

Small Claims Court Gavel

Small Claims Court Gavel

A while back, the California Judiciary released their annual report regarding case filings.  Relevant to this site, of course are the small claims court statistics.  It’s interesting to note that over the past decade there has been a general downward trend (from 1999-00 through 2006-07).  In the recent years, the numbers have remained somewhat consistent, fluctuating within about 6,000 of each other.

Here are the statistics for the previous ten years:

  • 1999-2000–320,754
  • 2000-2001–308,466
  • 2001-2002–319,165
  • 2002-2003–315,148
  • 2003-2004–284,096
  • 2004-2005–256,086
  • 2005-2006–236,526
  • 2006-2007–224,485
  • 2007-2008–227,733
  • 2008-2009–232,378

We think the increase in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 is directly correlated to the state of the economy.  Sure foreclosures are up, but times are difficult for everyone (from people struggling to pay credit cards, rent, or other things.  Unfortunately, we thunk that when the 2009-2010 data is released, the number will be higher than the 232.378 we see for 2008-2009.

Looking at the appeals side, we’ve got data (that only goes back to 2003-2004).  Here’s our appeals data:

  • 2003-2004–10,793
  • 2004-2005–9,640
  • 2005-2006–9,081
  • 2006-2007–8,700
  • 2007-2008–9,031
  • 2008-2009–9,206

So why are we looking at this information?  Simple by dividing the number of small claims appeals by the number of cases for the year, we get the percentage of cases that are appealed.  Here’s the breakdown by year:

  • 2003-2004–3.79%
  • 2004-2005–3.76%
  • 2005-2006–3.83%
  • 2006-2007–3.87%
  • 2007-2008–3.96%
  • 2008-2009–3.96%

So, if you win, chances are good there won’t be an appeal by the defendant.