Small Claims
Small Claims
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How Small Claims Court Works (JDP-CV-45)
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Where to File Small Claims and Small Claims Housing Matters- Small Claims Court Facility by Town (pre-10/16/17)
Where to File Small Claims and Small Claims Housing Matters (effective 10/16/17)

Frequently Asked Questions 
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General Questions  
  1. What is Small Claims Court?
  2. What cases belong in Small Claims Court?
  3. What cases do not belong in Small Claims Court?
  4. How long do I have to start a small claims case? (Called the Statute of Limitations)
  5. Can an out-of-state individual or business file a claim in Connecticut?
  6. How do I start a small claims case?
  7. How much does it cost to start a small claims case?
  8. Where do I go to file a small claims case?
Suing Different Types of Defendants
  1. How do I find out if the defendant is a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), a partnership or a DBA (doing business as)?
  2. Do I have to use the defendant's full name?
  3. What if the defendant resides out of the state of Connecticut?
  4. What do I do if I want to sue an out-of-state business entity?
Filing Fees, Court Papers and Court Dates
  1. Fill out Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (form JD-CV-40) - Slidecast
  2. Fill out Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claims (form JD-CV-123) - Slidecast
  3. How do I serve (deliver) a small claims case on the defendant(s)?
  4. What happens after the answer date has passed?
  5. When is a military affidavit about the defendant required to get a judgment?
  6. Where can I get more information?
Defendant's Options
  1. What do I do if I am sued in a small claims case and want to defend myself?
  2. When should I file a counterclaim?
Your Day in Court
  1. Can I have a jury trial?
  2. Are small claims cases decided by judges?
Judgment and Post Judgment Activity
  1. How do I collect money if I win my case?
  2. Can I appeal the decision?
  3. Could a small claims judgment against me (the defendant/ judgment debtor) affect my credit rating or appear on my credit report?
  4. When may a judgment lien be placed on real property (real estate)?
  5. Must I tell the court when the judgment owed to me is paid in full?
Small Claims Case Lookup
  1. How can I find out information about a small claims case?
  2. What information can I look up on a small claims matter?

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General Questions

1. What is Small Claims Court?
  • Small Claims Court is a part of Connecticut’s court system where a person can sue for money damages only up to $5,000.00. That amount is set by state law and may change from time to time. You may also be able to get interest and costs. You may be able to get more than $5,000.00 if you are suing for the return of security deposit. When a tenant (renter) of a residential real estate property sues a landlord to get back a wrongfully withheld security deposit, the tenant may be awarded twice the amount of the security deposit even if the total amount of damages and costs, combined, is greater than $5,000.00. See sections 51-15 (d) and 47a-21 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
  • You do not need an attorney.
  • Small claims cases are generally heard and decided by Magistrates, who are lawyers appointed by the Chief Court Administrator. For more information, see section 51-193l of the Connecticut General Statutes. Small Claims cases may also be heard by judges or judge trial referees. You may see magistrates or judges referred to as “judicial authorities.”
  • Simple rules of evidence apply, instead of complex rules.
  • There is no transcript of the trial; it is not recorded.
  • There is no right to appeal the decision.
2. What cases belong in Small Claims Court?
  • back rent;
  • return of security deposit;
  • broken or damaged property;
  • unpaid claims;
  • motor vehicle accidents;
  • breach of a written or verbal contract;
  • doctor/hospital bills for medical treatment;
  • other claims asking for $5,000.00 or less.
3. What cases do not belong in Small Claims Court?
  • libel or slander;
  • damage to your reputation;
  • name calling;
  • any claims asking for more than $5,000.00 (see #1, above, for explanation of cases in which the plaintiff may be awarded more than $5,000.00).
4. How long do I have to start a small claims case? (Called the Statute of Limitations)
  • A statute of limitations is a time limit on how long you have to start a case. There are different time limits for different kinds of cases.
  • Most statutes of limitations can be found in Chapter 926 of the Connecticut General Statutes. External Link
  • Be prepared to give the reasons why you believe that the statute of limitations time period has not run out if the claim is to collect a consumer debt, which is a debt or obligation made primarily for personal, family or household reasons. See section 52-350a (2) of the Connecticut General Statutes. External Link
5. Can an out-of-state individual or business file a claim in Connecticut?
  • Yes. However, the individual or business may be required to attend court hearings if the defendant contests any of the proceedings or if the court determines that the business or individual’s presence is necessary.
6. How do I start a small claims case?
  • Use the court form Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (form JD-CV-40). Type or neatly print your information on the forms. Read the “Instructions to Plaintiff” section on form JD-CV-40 to help you complete the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit. For more information, view the How-To Program for filling out Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (JD-CV-40).
  • Forms are available online or in any court location that handles small claims cases. For information on the court location that handles small claims matters for your town and the address and telephone number of the court see Where to File Small Claims Matters.
  • The person starting the case is called the plaintiff; the person being sued is called the defendant. After the case is decided, the person who is awarded money is called the “judgment creditor” and the person who is ordered to pay the money is called the “judgment debtor.”
  • If there are more plaintiffs or defendants than will fit on the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (form JD-CV-40), you must fill out and attach the Continuation of Parties (form JD-CV-67) to the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit.
  • Your signature must be notarized. Your signature may be notarized by the Court Clerk, a Notary Public, or a Commissioner of the Superior Court (any Connecticut attorney). In order to have your signature notarized, you must sign the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (form JD-CV-40) in front of the person who is notarizing it. You must also clearly print your name clearly and title, if you have a title, in the box provided. Your oath must be taken at the time you sign the form and the person who took your oath (the Clerk, a Notary, or a Commissioner of the Superior Court) must also sign it.
7. How much does it cost to start a small claims case?
  • There is a $95.00 entry (filing) fee.
  • You must pay the Court Clerk with cash, or with a check or money order made out to “Clerk of the Superior Court.” If you pay in person, you may also pay by MasterCard or Visa.
  • If you hand-deliver the claim to the court, and you plan to pay with a personal check, bring a valid state issued photo I.D., your photo driver’s license; U.S. passport; or Military I.D.
  • If you win your case, the entry fee and your costs of service will be added to the judgment against the defendant.
8. Where do I go to file a small claims case?
  • Small Claims cases must be filed in a venue (court) designated by the Chief Court Administrator.
  • If you are an Individual Plaintiff, you may file in the court handling small claims matters for the city or town: (a) where you live, (b) where the defendant lives or where the defendant’s business is located, or (c) where the transaction or injury occurred.
  • If you are a Business Entity, including a domestic or United States corporation or a limited liability company, you may file in the court handling small claims matters for the city or town: (a) where the defendant lives, (b) where the defendant is doing business, or (c) where the transaction or injury occurred.
  • For information on the court location that handles small claims matters for your town and the address and telephone number of the court see Where to File Small Claims Matters.
  • For landlord-tenant matters, you must file in the housing session where the property is located, if one exists. If there is no housing session for the location where the property is located, you must file in the judicial district where the property is located. To determine where you should file your cases, see Housing Matters – Where to File.
  • If you wish to file your case or other documents electronically, you must sign-up for Judicial Branch E-Services. Click here for more information on E-Services.

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Suing Different Types of Defendants

9. How do I find out if the defendant is a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), a partnership or a DBA (doing business as)?
  • Call the Secretary of the State at 860-509-6002 to find out if it is a corporation or an LLC and to get its address.
  • If the defendant is not a corporation or LLC, and is a DBA (doing business as) or uses a trade name, contact the town clerk’s office where the company is located to get the name of the business owner.
10. Do I have to use the defendant's full name?
  • Yes. Use the exact, complete name of the person or business.
  • If you leave out any part of the name, you may not be able to collect your money if you win the case.
  • Do not abbreviate any part of the name.
11. What if the defendant resides out of the state of Connecticut?
  • You may file against the out-of-state resident only if he or she owns property in Connecticut.
  • A statement indicating that the out-of-state individual owns property in Connecticut must be included in the claim.
12. What do I do if I want to sue an out-of-state business entity?
  • First you must find out if the business entity has an agent for service in Connecticut by contacting the Secretary of the State at 860-509-6002.
  • You must use a proper officer (for example a state marshal) to serve (deliver) the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (form JD-CV-40) on an out-of-state business entity. See List of state marshals.

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Filing Fees, Court Papers and Court Dates

13. Fill out Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (formJD-CV-40) - Slidecast 14. Fill out  Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claims (form JD-CV-123) - Slidecast 15. How do I serve (deliver) a small claims case on the defendant(s)?
  • Unless you are hiring a proper officer (for example a state marshal) to serve (deliver) the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (Writ) (form JD-CV-40) for you, you must deliver a copy of the completed original Writ to each defendant with the Instructions to Defendant (form JD-CV-121) before filing those documents with the court. See a description of acceptable delivery methods in the second part of this answer. You must deliver to each defendant a copy of all the documents you want to file with the court. In other words, all attachments to the original Writ must be delivered. After all of those documents have been delivered, complete a Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claims (Statement of Service) (form JD-CV-123), which explains to the court how you had the Writ delivered to each defendant that you served. Then, file the original Writ and Statement of Service for each defendant, along with copies of any exhibits or attachments, and the correct entry (filing) fee. Keep a copy of all documents for your records, along with the originals of any exhibits or attachments. For more information on the Statement of Service (form JD-CV-123), see the following: How-To Program to fill out Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claims (form JD-123).
  • The plaintiff, or his or her representative, must serve (deliver) the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit separately on each defendant using 1 of the 4 methods listed below, except that for each defendant who is an out-of-state entity (a business organized under the laws of a state other than Connecticut), the plaintiff must pay a proper officer (for example, a state marshal) to serve the defendant as described in number 4. There are special requirements for service on (delivery to) out-of-state insurance companies. The requirements are in Chapter 697, Title 38a of the Connecticut General StatutesExternal Link and you may find information on the Connecticut Insurance DepartmentExternal Link website.
    1. By priority mail with delivery confirmation: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (Writ) (form JD-CV-40) and attach copies of any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep the original Writ and documents and mail a copy of the Writ and documents, and the Instructions to Defendant (form JD-CV-121) to each defendant. When you have the delivery confirmation(s), complete a Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claim (Statement of Service) (form JD-CV-123) for each defendant you have served. Then, file the original Writ, Statement of Service and delivery confirmation for each defendant, along with copies of any exhibits or attachments, and the correct entry (filing) fee.
    2. By certified mail, return receipt requested: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (Writ) (form JD-CV-40) and attach copies of any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep the original Writ and documents and mail a copy of the Writ and documents, and the Instructions to Defendant (form JD-CV-121) to each defendant. When you receive the signed return receipt(s), complete a Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claims (Statement of Service) (form JD-CV-123) for each defendant you have served. Then, file the original Writ, Statement of Service and signed return receipt(s) (green card) for each defendant with the court, along with copies of any exhibits or attachments, and the correct entry (filing) fee.
    3. By a nationally recognized courier service providing delivery confirmation: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (Writ) (form JD-CV-40) and attach copies of any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep the original Writ and documents and have a copy of the Writ and documents, and the Instructions to Defendant (form JD-CV-121) delivered to each defendant. When you receive the tracking information showing delivery, complete a Statement of Service (Delivery) Small Claims (Statement of Service) (form JD-CV-123) for each defendant you have served. Then, file the original Writ, Statement of Service and the delivery confirmation for each defendant with the court, along with copies of any exhibits or attachments, and the correct entry (filing) fee.
    4. By a proper officer, for example, a marshal: fill out a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (Writ) (form JD-CV-40) and attach copies of any related documents you want to file with the Writ; keep a copy of the Writ and the originals of other documents; give the original Writ with attached documents, and the Instructions to Defendant (form JD-CV-121) to the officer to serve (deliver); after the officer serves (delivers) the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit, he or she will file the original Writ and documents with the court along with his or her return of service (a written statement describing how the writ was served).
  • The Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (form JD-CV-40) must be returned to the court not later than 1 month after the date of service.
  • When the clerk receives the Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit (form JD-CV-40) the clerk will set an answer date (date by which the defendant(s) must reply to the complaint) and will send a notice to all plaintiffs or their representatives of the docket (case) number and answer date. The clerk will also send an answer form that includes the docket number and answer date to each defendant at the address provided by the plaintiff.
16. What happens after the answer date has passed?
  • Neither party needs to do anything at this point. The file will be reviewed by a magistrate who will decide if a decision can be made without a trial or if the case needs to be scheduled for a trial.
17. When is a military affidavit about the defendant required to get a judgment?
  • If the defendant in your case is a person, you must say, under oath, whether the defendant is or is not in the military or naval service and how you know that. You will not be able to get a decision against a defendant who has not filed an answer unless you file an affidavit (a paper signed under oath) with the court that states facts showing that the defendant is not in the military or naval service.
  • You can find out if defendant is in the military or naval service from the U.S. Department of Defense - Defense Manpower Data Center by using the following website if you have the first and last name of the person and the person’s date of birth or the person’s social security number. The website is: https://scra.dmdc.osd.mil/.External Link This web address must be typed exactly, including the “s” after the http. You may get a warning stating that there is a problem with this website’s security certificate. This website is hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • If you do not know the defendant’s date of birth or social security number, you will have to find out the defendant’s military status by asking a person who knows the defendant well to fill out an affidavit (written statement under oath), or by giving the place of the defendant’s full time employment in an affidavit of your own. For the affidavit, you can use court form Affidavit Concerning Military Service (form JD-FM-178).
18. Where can I get more information?
  • Review the PDF booklet, How Small Claims Works (form JDP-CV-45), which is also available in printed form in every clerk’s office that handles small claims cases and in the Court Service Centers. From time to time information in this booklet may change, such as fees, court locations and phone numbers. Please check this website or contact the clerk’s office to be sure that you have the most current information about fees, court locations and phone numbers.
  • Ask the court clerk for information. The clerk can give you information. The clerk cannot give you legal advice.
  • Talk to an attorney. Check an internet search engine, the Yellow Pages or call your local Lawyer Referral Service (run by the local Bar Association). If you are a low income individual, The Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc. may be able to help you. Their toll free number is 800-453-3320.
  • Legal Clinics may also provide an opportunity to discuss your case with an attorney. Information may be found at the Judicial Branch’s Legal Clinics and Help page.
  • Additional information on finding legal help is available on the Find Legal Help page.

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Defendant's Options

19. What do I do if I am sued in a small claims case and want to defend myself?
  • File an answer on or before the answer date. The answer date will appear on the Answer form sent to you by the court. Fill out the Answer form and return it by mail, fax or hand delivery to the clerk. Send a copy to each attorney or other representative of the plaintiff, or if the plaintiff is representing himself or herself, to the plaintiff and fill out the certification that you have done so.
  • If you disagree with the claim or the amount of money, check the box that says you disagree and explain briefly in writing why you believe you do not owe the money.
  • Attach copies of any documents that support your claim. For example, you can attach receipts, letters, contracts or leases. Be sure that the documents you are filing do not contain personal identifying information, such as a social security number, credit card account number, bank account number or date of birth. You should to omit, remove (redact), or black-out personal identifying information before filing any document unless the information is required by law or court order.
  • You may also file a motion to transfer the case to the regular court docket, by completing a Small Claims – Motion to Transfer to the Regular Docket (form JD-CV-158). The motion must be filed according to the Connecticut Practice Book in order to be granted. See section 24-21 of the Connecticut Practice Book. The fee is $125.00.
  • If you wish to file your answer or other documents electronically, you must sign-up for Judicial Branch E-Services. For more information on e-filing and E-Services, see E-File in Small Claims Matters.
20. When should I file a counterclaim?
  • If you want to file a counterclaim, you must do so on or before the answer date or, if a judgment was entered against you, when a motion to open judgment is granted.
  • If you think the plaintiff owes you money, you may say so in the counterclaim.
  • There is a $95.00 filing fee for a counterclaim.
  • You must pay the court clerk with cash, or with a check or money order made out to “Clerk of the Superior Court.” If you pay in person, you may also pay by MasterCard or Visa.
  • If you hand-deliver the counterclaim to the court, and you plan to pay with a personal check, bring a valid state issued photo I.D., your photo driver’s license; U.S. passport; or Military I.D.
  • If you wish to file your counterclaim or other documents electronically, you must sign-up for Judicial Branch E-Services. Click here for more information on E-Services.

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Your Day in Court

21. Can I have a jury trial?
  • There are no jury trials in small claims.
  • You may, however, request a jury trial if you file a motion to transfer the case to the regular docket. See #19 above.
22. Are small claims cases decided by judges?
  • Small claims cases are generally heard and decided by Magistrates, who are lawyers appointed by the Chief Court Administrator. For more information, see section 51-193l of the Connecticut General Statutes.External Link Small Claims cases may also be heard by judges or judge trial referees.
  • In some cases, if the parties agree, small claims matters may be heard by a Commissioner, who has been approved by the Chief Court Administrator to hear such matters. For more information, see section 52-549a of the Connecticut General Statutes.External Link

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Judgment and Post Judgment Activity

23. How do I collect money if I win my case?
24. Can I appeal the decision?
  • You cannot appeal a decision in a small claims court case.
25. Could a small claims judgment against me (the judgment debtor) affect my credit rating or appear on my credit report?
26.When may a judgment lien be placed on real property (real estate)?
  • A judgment lien may be placed on the land records in the town clerk’s office in the town where the real property is located when a money judgment is unpaid under section 52-380a of the Connecticut General Statutes.External Link The cost of the judgment lien may be added to the judgment.
  • A judgment lien certificate must be signed by the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor’s attorney, and recorded on the land records.
  • Once the judgment lien certificate is recorded on the land records, the money judgment a lien on the judgment debtor’s interest in the real property described in the certificate.
  • The judgment lien will expire 20 years after the judgment was rendered unless the party claiming the lien starts an action to foreclose it within that period of time and follows the remaining requirements of the statute. For more complete information, see section 52-380a of the Connecticut General Statutes.External Link
27. Must I tell the court when the judgment owed to me is paid in full?
  • Yes. This is called a satisfaction of judgment and is a written notice that must be filed with the court when full payment has been made. You must complete a Satisfaction of Judgment (form JD-CV-164) and file it with the court within 90 days after full payment has been made. See section 24-30 of the Connecticut Practice Book.

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Small Claims Case Lookup

28. How can I find out information about a small claims case?

Small Claims case information may be searched by: party name, docket number, and attorney/firm juris number, among other search options.
Case information for small claims matters filed with Centralized Small Claims prior to September 1, 2017 that have not been transferred to the small claims docket in a judicial district or housing session and assigned a new docket number are available online through the Centralized Small Claims Case Look-up.

Case information for small claims matters filed on and after September 1, 2017, and any cases filed prior to that date that have been transferred to the small claims docket in a judicial district or housing session are available through the Superior Court Small Claims Case Look-up.
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29. What information can I look up on a small claims matter?

You can view information on a small claims matter including party names, appearance information, the amount of the claim filed, any judgment entered, a list of activity and documents filed, any scheduled hearing date, and disposition information. Documents in many small claims cases can also be viewed on the public website. For more information, go to the Small Claims Session page.
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