Magazine article Business Credit

Small Claims Is a Breeze

Magazine article Business Credit

Small Claims Is a Breeze

Article excerpt

My first position as a credit manager was at a local seafood company here in St. Louis. It was decided in the interest of saving money, that I would do all of my own small claims cases. After a few days of training I began haunting the courthouses in St. Louis City and St. Louis County and observed several cases over the next few weeks. I watched and took a lot of notes. I tried to figure out what the judges did and didn't like. I began to get a feel of how the whole process worked.

There was a limousine company being sued by its customers because the driver had spun the tires on their lawn and damaged the landscape. The driver claimed that the passengers were rude and abusive, did damage to the limousine and told him to drive on their lawn in the first place since there was no place to turn around. The judge ended up splitting the fee between them, so no one really prevailed.

There was another case of payment due on the sale of a cockatoo. The judge asked if any payment had been received on the $1,500 balance due.

"Yes your honor," was the plaintiff's answer, "Five-hundred dollars and an iguana."

"Excuse me, what's an 'iguana'?"

"It's a big green lizard, your honor."

My first suit was against a restaurant on South Broadway. They owed us almost the limit of what you were allowed to sue for in that particular court. I filed all my papers and got a court date. I prepared spreadsheets, copies of delivery receipts, invoices and call records. I was a wreck. I paced. I practiced in the mirror. I fretted and had a slight meltdown. "You can do this" was my mantra.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The court date finally arrived. I took great care in getting ready that morning. I took out my brand new navy blue suit, navy blue pumps and crisp white blouse. I even left my skirt hanging on the hook on the back of the bedroom door until the last minute so I wouldn't muss or wrinkle it. I did my hair and makeup and made a quick final inspection in the bureau mirror. I looked professional. I was ready.

I arrived at the courthouse just over two hours early. I had a briefcase full of every document ever created for any transaction having to do with that account. …

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