How to Sue Corporations Without a Lawyer and Win
We’ve all had disagreements with an asshole customer service representative. Then you ask for the manager or a supervisor only for them to continue talking to you like you’re an idiot.
Some customers immediately start yelling at everyone, making demands, and handing out threats. Some businesses are really good about customer service and they’ll try everything to resolve a situation. Other companies could care less.
For those that care less, I suggest taking them to small claims court. Some people waste time arguing and giving the company a piece of their mind. Others take to social media, Yelp, review sites, or the Better Business Bureau to slam the company. Sure they’ll try to shut you with a coupon or a gift certificate, but why does it have to go that far before they decide to treat you with respect?
There is a more lucrative solution that might even get everyone that pissed you off fired…TAKE THEM TO COURT! Small Claims Court. Instead of yelling at everyone and wasting your time, silently take names, employee numbers, and collect information. You will need this information in your court complaint to get them all fired if you want.
Step 1: Go to your local small claims court and file a claim.
Many people have the misconception that they need a lawyer to navigate through this very simple process. Others are scared off by the filing fee.
However, in most states the paper that needs to be filed is usually a simple fill-in-the-blank form. If you’re filing on your own without a lawyer then it’s called filing “Pro Se”. It takes less than a minute to fill out. You’ll input your name, contact information, a brief description of your claim, and how much you’re seeking in damages.
Different courts have different filing fees but you should be able to file your claim for under $200. If you don’t have the money, you’ll need to file another form that allows you to sue as a “poor person” or an “indigent person”. Different states refer to it by different terms but if you fill out this form and you qualify, you’ll be able to sue for FREE.
Step 2: Have the company served
You’ll have to file another form or sign somewhere on your complaint form to request the company be served. This process is the official notice to the company that they are being sued and will need to defend themselves against your claim.
After the company is served, they will either:
- Get a lawyer to handle the case.
- Contact you directly to settle the case.
Don’t get intimidated if their lawyer contacts you. The company doesn’t want the case to go to trial unless it exceeds a certain dollar amount. As with just about everything in business, decisions are based on dollars.
If the company fights the case, they’ll have to pay a lawyer at least a $3,500 retainer fee to accept the case. If the case goes to trial, that’s an additional $3,500 – $7,000. A small claims case can easily cost a corporation $10,000 or more.
If you’re only asking for $2,000 or $3,000, wouldn’t it make sense for the company to settle out of court with you and just send you a check? If you keep your claim under $3,000, you’ll likely receive a settlement offer instead of having to go to court. If you get greedy and go over that amount you risk the company fighting you in court with their lawyer.
You’re not a lawyer, so if you think your $5 issue is worth $5,000 then set your claim for $5,000. That way if they want to settle out of court you can begin your negotiations at $5,000 and work down.
The company or their lawyer will try to tell you that your claim isn’t worth that much and give you some legal mumbo jumbo, but don’t fall for it. Just know that their client (the business that pissed you off) does not want the case to go to court so stand your ground. Let them know that you want to know what the judge has to say, not them.
Before the company sends you a check to settle the case out of court, be sure you read the agreement. They’ll never just send you a check. The company’s legal department will send you an agreement letter with stipulations that you must agree to before you can have the settlement money. Every letter is different but most of them will have you to agree to not speak publicly about the case or settlement. This is called a Non Disclosure Agreement or NDA. If you violate this you can kiss your settlement money goodbye.
*Important note: Large corporations usually go directly for a settlement. Small businesses will likely show up to court and take you up on your offer to go to trial. If you take a small business to court, be prepared to present your case.
Finally, back to the issue of getting people fired. What would you do if you were the CEO of a company and your legal team contacted you to say that a couple of clowns in your customer service department just turned a $5 issue into a $10,000 lawsuit? You’d probably do some investigating and then have them escorted out of the building with security. A lawsuit is very serious. So before you go trying to get people fired, make sure that you’re not in the wrong. This blog is for those situations where you’re dealing with some complete assholes that could care less about you or their job.
A company does not have the last word in a dispute. If you feel cheated by a company and they’re not making an effort to resolve a situation fairly, sue them. They’ll find that a problem that could have been resolved for a few dollars and a little respect will cost them thousands.
The materials available at this web site are for informational and entertainment purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author.