New Rule: Small Claims Court Representation
By Randall C. Resch,
AT Operations Editor
There’s a new rule for small claims appearances. Because it’s not possible for tow company owners or presidents to attend all cases, the court oftentimes allows the company to send designated personnel. Companies generally designate an experienced manager to represent the company.
Every state has courtroom protocol for paperwork regarding who can be called-to-order on behalf of the plaintiff and the defendant company. When subpoenas are received at the company, the individuals named on the subpoena may be required to appear when the company owner or president are specifically named. But, where subpoenas name only the company, the company may opt to send a designate. In some jurisdications, a new step is now required for allowing designates other than requiring the owner or president to represent.
Jurisdictions now require that a designated individual, with knowledge and experience in representing the company, may represent court procedings relating to the case against the company. The company will need a letter-to-the-court identifying the company’s designate. Not all judges outwardly recognize persons other than an owner or president; this policy varies.
When cases are called to order, the plaintiff and defendant come forward. Some judges … not all, may ask who is the company’s representative? It’s at that time the judge may ask for a company letter identifying the designated representative. Whoever the company designate is, they’d better be prepared. If the judge doesn’t recognize an individual as an approved representative and is not able to testify on behalf of the company, the judge could reset the matter, or award the plaintiff because the company failed to represent.
Your company’s letter can be simple. Make it specific to the case using the plaintiff’s information supplied on the subpoena and in a similar format as indicated below.
Make this letter available on your company’s database and prepare one for every case. Have one available for the judge’s request so there’s no chance in not having your company’s representive recognized and accepted. Be prepared vs. losing out.
12345 Anytown Boulevard
Your Town, Anywere, 92000
Case Number: _____________ Plaintiff: ______________________
Dear Court Officer,
Sample Towing, Inc. is a duly registered corporation within the state of ______________, and having incorporated on (date) _______________ 2013. The corporation is authorized to indemnify its corporate directors and officers to the fullest extent of law.
(designate) ______________________ is the (title) ____________________ for the corporation and handles all damage and small claims issues as the result of business operations. He/she is awarded all authority to represent the corporation in court matters where duly a served subpoena names ______________________, owner/president, as defendant to civil action.
Please call me direct at 123-456-7890 if you have questions.
John D. Smith, Owner/President