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How to Sue in Small Claims Court
Whom Do You Sue?

You may not realize it, but suing the right person is very important and not as easy as you think. Before you sue, you must determine the nature of the entity you are filing your claim against. Basically, there are three ways a person may do business. First, as a sole proprietor. Second, as a partnership. Third, as a corporation.

To sue a sole proprietor, you file against the person running the business, no matter what name he or she is using. Suppose that Sara Smith opens a dress shop called "The Dress Shop." Whom do you sue? The answer is Sara. To find out who "The Dress Shop" really is, check with the "assumed name" department in the clerks office.

To sue a partnership you should get the names of the partners. Under the law, each of the partners are responsible for the obligations of the partnership.

To sue a corporation, on the other hand, you file against the corporation. A corporation is a separate legal entity. To properly sue a corporation you should first contact the secretary of state and find out who the "agent for service" is so that you know who to serve with the papers. Call 1-800-252-1386 and ask for the business tax department to see if the business is listed. If it is, get the proper name of the business and the name of the registered agent. This is the person you will serve with your legal papers.

Once you have determined the proper legal entity to sue, make sure to get the full name and address. A small error in spelling or an incorrect address could cost you months when your papers cannot be served.