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Newsletter May 2006

Dear Karen,

As a community service, the Law Offices of Karen M. Riggio, LLC publishes a complimentary e-newsletter designed for business owners and independent contractors. Each month, we offer valuable tips and practical, real life answers to today’s common contract issues and collection problems. Feel free to e-mail us your suggestions for future articles.

Karen M. Riggio


Tip of the Month
Steps to Success in Small Claims Court

Customers, suppliers, subcontractors... these are the very people that business owners rely upon, but they can also be the source of unfortunate legal disputes. Customers may not pay their bills; suppliers may deliver sub par goods; and subcontractors may leave work unfinished.

In Connecticut and New York, small claims courts can resolve disputes up to $5,000. The key to winning your case in court is to show up with strong evidence that supports your side of the story. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Details, details, details: Be sure your invoices and statements have the correct amounts, totals, invoice numbers, complete names, address, payment terms, dates, and description of work performed or products sold.

  • Bring your contract or other written agreement to court. If you do not have an official written agreement, there are other types of evidence that might help you prove that you had an agreement. (For example, a letter discussing an agreement or a receipt might convince the judge that a contract was made, even if you do not have it all down in writing).

  • Valuable evidence is also available in your business books. (For example, you can show the original charges, the date they were made, and any payments made towards the current balance).

  • Copies of checks showing payments made or bounced checks are also very helpful.

  • If there is any damage, a paid bill showing the corrective action taken or two estimates must be brought to court.

During the small claims court proceedings, both parties will have their say; and it will be up to the judge to decide. Remember correct, consistent information is vital to your attorney... to build your case and demonstrate your business credibility. In a dispute over an unpaid bill or installment payment, your detailed and accurate documentation will help to provide convincing proof to a judge.


Since 1983, Attorney Karen M. Riggio has helped thousands of clients create clear and concise written agreements and avoid potential business disputes. Her practice concentrates in business and commercial law, and provides experienced legal counsel in contracts, debt collection, dispute resolution, and real estate. For more information, call 203-968-8715 or visit www.kmriggio.com.

© 2006 Law Offices of Karen M. Riggio, LLC
Concentrating on Business and Commercial Law
Connecticut • New York