senate Bill S140

Relates to commencement of a small claims action in New York city civil courts

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 09 / Jan / 2013
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • 08 / Jan / 2014
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Summary

Requires notice by certified mail with return receipt requested for the commencement of a small claims action in New York city civil courts.

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Bill Details

Versions:
S140
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Judiciary
Law Section:
New York City Civil Court Act
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง1803-A, NYC Civ Ct Act
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Cycles:
2011-2012: S685
2009-2010: S1759A

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S140

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the New York city civil court act, in relation
to commencement of
a small claims action

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The purpose of this bill is to ensure that commencement of an action
in small claims court can only be done by certified mail with return
receipt requested to the party complained against at their primary
residence.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
This amendment will delete provisions in Section 1. Subdivision (a) of
section 1803-A of the New York City civil court act, as amended by
section 35 of part J of chapter 62 of the laws of 2003, relating to
the means of delivering notice of small claims complaint.

JUSTIFICATION:
Under current law, a small claims action can be commenced upon service
of a first class mail notice. After a twenty on e day period, if the
mailing is not returned as undeliverable, it is presumed that the
person being claimed against has knowledge of the small claims court
action that has been commenced. This provision does not adequately
guarantee actual notice to the party complained against in small
claims court. For example, a party could relocate and their mail may
still be delivered to their previous address. Alternatively, the mail
could erroneously be delivered to the wrong home and disregarded by
the occupant. In addition, unreliable mail management and delivery in
large apartment buildings might also impede the actual or timely
distribution of mail, and undermine the conveyance of notice to a
litigant. Without actual confirmation that notice of the commencement
of a small claims court action has been received, we cannot be
certain that all parties involved in the proceeding are knowledgeable
as to its existence. Absent such confirmation, legal proceedings
could be commenced and default judgments obtained without a party to
the action ever being given the opportunity to defend itself. That is
patently unfair, and could subject
individuals to unjust monetary liability and adverse credit
implications. This bill will ensure that all parties to a small
claims court action are given actual notice.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
S.685 of 2011
01/05/11 Referred to Judiciary

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.


view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                   140

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen. SAMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary

AN ACT to amend the New York  city  civil  court  act,  in  relation  to
  commencement of a small claims action

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1.  The opening paragraph of subdivision (a) of section 1803-A
of the New York city civil court act, as amended by section 35 of part J
of chapter 62 of the laws of 2003, is amended to read as follows:
  Commercial claims other than claims arising  out  of  consumer  trans-
actions  shall be commenced upon the payment by the claimant of a filing
fee of twenty-five dollars and the cost of mailings as herein  provided,
without  the  service  of  a summons and, except by special order of the
court, without the service of any pleading other than a required certif-
ication verified as to its  truthfulness  by  the  claimant  on  a  form
prescribed  by  the  state office of court administration and filed with
the clerk, that no more than five such actions or proceedings (including
the instant action or  proceeding)  have  been  instituted  during  that
calendar  month,  and a required statement of its cause of action by the
claimant or someone in its behalf to the clerk,  who  shall  reduce  the
same to a concise, written form and record it in a docket kept especial-
ly  for  such  purpose. Such procedure shall provide that the commercial
claims part of the court shall have  no  jurisdiction  over,  and  shall
dismiss,  any  case  with respect to which the required certification is
not made upon the attempted institution of  the  action  or  proceeding.
Such  procedure shall provide for the sending of notice of such claim by
[ordinary first class mail  and]  certified  mail  with  return  receipt
requested  to  the  party  complained  against  at  his residence, if he
resides within the city of New York, and his residence is known  to  the
claimant,  or  at  his  office or place of regular employment within the

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD00764-01-3

S. 140                              2

city of New York if he does not reside therein or his  residence  within
the  city of New York is not known to the claimant. [If, after the expi-
ration of twenty-one days, such ordinary first  class  mailing  has  not
been  returned  as  undeliverable, the party complained against shall be
presumed to have received notice  of  such  claim.]  Such  notice  shall
include  a clear description of the procedure for filing a counterclaim,
pursuant to subdivision (d) of this section.
  S 2. Subdivision (b) of section 1803-A of  the  New  York  city  civil
court  act, as amended by section 35 of part J of chapter 62 of the laws
of 2003, is amended to read as follows:
  (b) (1) Commercial claims in actions arising out  of  consumer  trans-
actions  shall be commenced upon the payment by the claimant of a filing
fee of twenty-five dollars and the cost of mailings as herein  provided,
without  the  service  of  a summons and, except by special order of the
court, without the service of any pleading other than a required  state-
ment  of the cause of action by the claimant or someone on its behalf of
the clerk, who shall reduce the same to a concise written form including
the information required by subdivision (c) of this section,  denominate
it  conspicuously as a consumer transaction, and record it in the docket
marked as a consumer  transaction,  and  by  filing  with  the  clerk  a
required  certificate verified as to its truthfulness by the claimant on
forms prescribed by the state office of court administration.
  (2) Such verified certificate shall certify (i) that the claimant  has
mailed  by  ordinary  first class mail to the party complained against a
demand letter, no less than ten days and no more than one hundred eighty
days prior to the commencement of the claim, and (ii) that,  based  upon
information  and  belief, the claimant has not instituted more than five
actions or proceedings (including  the  instant  action  or  proceeding)
during the calendar month.
  (3)  A form for the demand letter shall be prescribed and furnished by
the state office of court administration and shall require the following
information: the date of  the  consumer  transaction;  the  amount  that
remains unpaid; a copy of the original debt instrument or other document
underlying  the  debt  and  an  accounting  of all payments, and, if the
claimant was not a party to the  original  transaction,  the  names  and
addresses  of  the  parties to the original transaction; and a statement
that the claimant intends to use this part of  the  court  to  obtain  a
judgment,  that  further  notice  of a hearing date will be sent, unless
payment is received by a specified date, and that the  party  complained
against  will  be  entitled  to  appear  at said hearing and present any
defenses to the claim.
  (4) In the  event  that  the  verified  certificate  is  not  properly
completed  by  the  claimant,  the  court  shall not allow the action to
proceed until the verified certificate  is  corrected.  Notice  of  such
claim shall be sent by the clerk by [both ordinary first class mail and]
certified  mail  with  return  receipt requested to the party complained
against at his residence, if he resides within the city of New York, and
his residence is known to the claimant, or at his  office  or  place  of
regular  employment  within  the  city of New York if he does not reside
therein or his residence within the city of New York is not known to the
claimant.  [If, after the expiration of thirty days, such ordinary first
class  mailing  has  not  been  returned  as  undeliverable,  the  party
complained  against  shall  be  presumed to have received notice of such
claim.]
  (5) Such procedure shall further provide for an early hearing upon and
determination of such claim. The hearing shall be scheduled in a  manner

S. 140                              3

which,  to  the extent possible, minimizes the time the party complained
against must be absent from employment. Either party  may  request  that
the hearing be scheduled during evening hours, provided that the hearing
shall  not be scheduled during evening hours if it would cause unreason-
able hardship to either party. The court  shall  not  unreasonably  deny
requests  for evening hearings if such requests are made by the claimant
upon commencement of the action or by the party complained against with-
in fourteen days of receipt of the notice of claim.
  S 3. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to actions
commenced on and after such date.

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