Person is Sued
A person under age 18 can have a claim filed
by a guardian ad litem ("GAL") who has been appointed by a clerk of
court. A guardian ad litem must be over 18 and can be a parent, relative
or friend. If the person you wish to sue is under age 18 or under any
legal disability, such as mental incompetence, you should ask a lawyer
Businesses as Defendants.
If you are suing a business,
you must first find out whether it is a corporation or not. To find
this out, along with the name and address of the corporation’s registered
agent, call the N.C. Secretary of State, Corporations Division (919)
807-2225 (or visit is website,
www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations ). If the business is a corporation, the Corporation Division
will tell you the county, city, and street address of the corporation’s
registered office and principal place of business, which could be in
different counties. You may sue this corporation in either county where
it does business.
If there is no record of that business as a corporation, then go to
the Register of Deeds office in the county where the business has its
main office. The Register of Deeds, which is in the courthouse, has
the name of owners of businesses in its county. Write the business owner’s
name on the court papers as the defendant. If the Register of Deeds
office does not have information about the owners or their addresses
or about any registered office, you may sue the business in any county
where it does business.
If you are the defendant and have
a claim against the person who sues you, you can sue that person as
part of the same case. You do this by filing a "counterclaim," also
in Small Claims Court. For example, an appliance store may be suing
for a repair bill you didn’t pay. But you don’t want to pay because
the repairman knocked a hole in your wall, which you paid to have repaired. You want the appliance company to pay for that damage before you pay
its repair bill. Your counterclaim cannot be more than $5,000.
To file a counterclaim, you need to write an answer to the complaint
you get. Write what you r claim is and your answer to what the plaintiff
says under the heading "Answer and Counterclaim." Take the written answer
and counterclaim to the clerk of court on or before the day of your
trial. Include with the answer and counterclaim a signed statement of
how you will give these papers to the defendant, which you can do in
person or by regular mail. All of this must be done before the time
set for the trial.
If you are the defendant and have filed a counterclaim against the plaintiff,
the magistrate may order the plaintiff to pay part or all of your claim,
or may order the property returned to you.
If you win your counterclaim you can collect on it the same way that
plaintiff collects on a judgment, as discussed in
If a person cannot get time off from work
to come to court or is unwilling to come, you can get a subpoena from
the clerk of court. This is a legal notice, which requires the witness
to come to court. You will have to pay a
$30 fee* for the sheriff to deliver
the subpoena to the witness. Each witness who is subpoenaed can collect
a small daily fee and, if the witness is from outside the county, travel expenses
from the court, after the judgment is collected. These fees then added
to the court costs, which are paid by the person who loses, if the judgment
Suits Over $5,000.
The limit of $5,000 on suits
in Small Claims Court does not include interest or court costs. If you
have a claim over $5,000, you can either file your claim in District
Court, where you will probably need a lawyer to represent you. Or; you
can lower your claim to $5,000 and file it in Small Claims Court; if
you do this you lose the right to any of the amount over $5,000.
Wrong Person is Sued.
If you are being sued and
think someone else is at fault in the cause, you can use a legal procedure
to have this person appear in court as another party to the lawsuit. This person is called a "third party defendant." In a situation like
this, you will need a lawyer to be sure that your rights are protected.
* NOTE: Fee effective July 1,
(Sheriff's Fee effective August. 1, 20011)
**Copyright May 1990, April 1994, February 1997, March 1998, June
2001, November 2003, October 2005, Legal Aid of North Carolina,
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