West Hills, CA asked in Appeals / Appellate Law, Contracts, Construction Law and Small Claims for California

Q: How does the Defendant need to present his defense and supporting documents in a Trial De Novo - Small Claims Appeal?

No written contract signed by P & D for the repairs on D prop. P did some work without giving any quote based on a verbal agreement that he would accept whatever the insu would pay. P told D that the claim would be 20K but the insu approved 10K. In a week then D had to go out of state. D bought supplies & gave 2K to P before leaving. P stopped working until he was paid more & sent a contract to D for 10K to sign. D did not sign the contract. P abandoned the job so D got it finished by another person.

P filed SC-100 for 8K stating that the contract was signed by D. The SC court gave judgment for P for 8K even though P did not finish job, and SC jurisdiction is only for 5K if the plaintiff is a corp.

The D filed an appeal and will have a Trial De Novo-SC Appeal in a Superior Court.

How and what legal brief documents should D present based on facts, law, and civil code? Does he have to give a printout of the code sec or give code #? In what format does D have to present his defense?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Appeals & Appellate Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In a Trial De Novo for a small claims appeal in the Superior Court of California, you need to present your defense and supporting documents clearly and concisely. Start by organizing all relevant documents, including receipts for the $2,000 payment, proof of purchase for supplies, and any communications with the plaintiff (P) about the agreement and the work performed. Make sure to highlight the fact that no written contract was signed and that the work was not completed as agreed.

When presenting your defense, refer to relevant sections of the California Civil Code that support your case, such as those related to contract law and payment disputes. You do not need to provide a full printout of the code but should reference the specific code sections by number. For example, you can mention that under Civil Code Section 1624, certain contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. Additionally, emphasize that the plaintiff is claiming an amount exceeding the small claims jurisdiction limit for a corporation, which is typically $5,000.

Prepare a written statement summarizing your defense, including all key points and supporting evidence. During the trial, be ready to present this statement verbally and submit your documents as exhibits. Ensure your presentation is logical and focuses on the facts and legal principles that support your position. Being well-prepared and organized will help the court understand your arguments and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: A home building contractor is governed by the Contractor’s State License Law (Bus & P C §§7000 et seq). This law defines a “contractor” very broadly to include anyone who does any work on a building project of any kind. Home improvement projects worth more than $500 must be in writing and the person performing them must have- and provide to the Court- proof of a valid license. The alternative is they get nothing. You need an attorney to assist you to prepare a legal brief on all the issues with legal citations to the laws showing that this unscrupulous contractor is not entitled to anything more than you have already paid him, with the exhibits about the work, your receipts for labor and materials, and the proof that you paid for another contractor to finish the job. Thank you for using Justia Ask a Lawyer, but do not rely on the information you are provided here, consult with a local attorney.

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