Woodland Hills, CA asked in Appeals / Appellate Law, Consumer Law, Contracts and Small Claims for California

Q: Rights of a Plaintiff in Trial De Novo - Small Claims Appeal, if the judgment comes in favor of the Defendant

Original Small Claims case on SC-100 was filed by the Plaintiff against the Defendant, and the Small Claims Court decided in favor of the Plaintiff.

The Defendant then filed an appeal on SC-140.

1) In a Trial De Novo - Small Claims Appeal, if the judgment comes in favor of the Defendant and the plaintiff loses, what are the rights of the plaintiff thereafter?

2) If originally the P filed an SC claim in the name of his corporation, can he again file another claim in his own name as an individual against the D?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, if a plaintiff loses in a trial de novo following an appeal in a small claims case, the plaintiff has limited options. The decision from the trial de novo is generally final, and the plaintiff cannot appeal further. However, if there were significant procedural errors or misconduct during the trial, the plaintiff might be able to file a motion to vacate the judgment, asking the court to set aside its decision and grant a new trial.

Regarding filing another claim, if the original small claims case was filed in the name of a corporation, the individual who owns or represents the corporation cannot file another claim against the same defendant on the same issue in their own name. California law prohibits re-litigating the same dispute that has already been decided by the court, regardless of whether the plaintiff files in a different capacity.

It's important to thoroughly review the reasons for the initial outcome and consider if there are any legitimate grounds for a motion to vacate or other post-judgment remedies. Consulting with a legal professional might help clarify your specific situation and explore any potential next steps you can take.

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