Instructions for completing parts 1-6 on the Statement of Small Claim & Notice of Trial Form
Check the box titled "Boston Municipal Court", "District Court" or "Housing Court" and enter the Court Division in which you will file your claim. You may bring a small claim only in the court for the area where either the plaintiff or the defendant lives or has a place of business or employment. A small claim against a landlord arising from the rental of an apartment may also be brought where the apartment is located. You may find it easier to enforce a decision in your favor if you bring your small claim where the defendant lives or works, but you are not required to do so. The Clerk-Magistrate's office can tell you which court serves a location and the fee you must pay to file your case.
You, the person filing the claim, are the plaintiff. Enter all requested information. Be sure to include a daytime phone number in case the court needs to reach you. If you are represented by an attorney, please provide that information on the form and include the attorney's phone number.
The defendant is the person or entity being sued. It is important from a legal point of view that you properly name and categorize the defendant in the case. A defendant can be:
- An individual (use proper names, do not use nicknames)
- Sample: Robert Jones - not "Bob" Jones;
- An individual doing business under a trade name (d/b/a)
- Sample: Robert Jones d/b/a Acme Building Co.;
- A corporation (Corp. or Inc.)
- Sample: Jones Electric Co., Inc. or Jones Electric Corp.;
- A trust
If the defendant is a corporation, be sure to indicate that on the form. Under the law, a corporation is an entity that can sue or be sued.
To find out whether a business is a corporation and/or the proper name of the corporation, see the Corporate Records Division of the Office of the Secretary of State or call (617) 727-2800. If you call be sure to get the names and addresses of the officers of the corporation. (You may need this information later if you prevail in your case.) Remember, however, that you are suing the corporation not the officer(s), although the officers personally would be summoned to court if you prevail against the corporation and payment is not made.
If the defendant is not a corporation and is doing business under a trade name (d/b/a) you can verify that by calling the city or town hall where the business is located. Any entity that does business under a trade name other than his or her own is required to register in the local city or town clerk's office where the business is located.
If the defendant is a trust, list the title of the trust and the name, address and telephone number of the principal trustee.
You must insert the amount that you claim that you are owed by the defendant. Court costs are the filing fee paid to this court. The filing fee for small claims $500 and under is $40. The filing fee for claims of $501 to $2000 is $50. The filing fee for claims of $2001 to $5000 is $100. The filing fee for claims of $5001 to $7000 is $150. The filing fee for claims of property damage of more than $7000 arising from an automobile accident is $150. You will pay the filing fee to the court when you file your Small Claim.
Unless your claim is based upon property damage sustained in an automobile accident, it cannot exceed $7,000.00. The claim may, however, be subject to statutory damages in excess of $7,000.00 (i.e. Consumer Protection cases or certain landlord/tenant cases). In those cases, the base amount may not exceed $7,000.00 even though the potential award may exceed that amount. You should be sure to include in this section that you are seeking double or treble damages and costs pursuant to the specific statute.
In as much detail as possible, describe what you are suing the defendant for. Use exact dates whenever possible. (Suggestion: write your claim out on a piece of scrap paper before typing it on the claim)
Mediation is available in many courts on the date of trial. When the case is called and if mediation is available, you will be asked if you would like to mediate your claim. If you want to avail yourself of mediation simply respond in the affirmative, agree to mediation. Remember, you do not lose your right to a trial if you submit to mediation and it is unsuccessful.
If you are suing an individual, you are required to attest under the pains and penalties of perjury the defendant's military status.
Once you have filed your claim you will be assigned a date of trial. Cases will be tried by the Clerk Magistrate and Assistant Clerk Magistrate of the Court.
If you will be submitting documents or other exhibits at trial make sure that you have two extra sets, one for the Magistrate and one for the defendant.
Return the completed form, with all parts intact, together with a check or money order (made payable to "Clerk-Magistrate") for the filing fee. You may bring or mail the completed form and filing fee to the Clerk-Magistrate's office of the court where you are filing your case.
Small Claims Resources
- Where Do I File a Small Claim?
- Small Claims in the Boston Municipal Court or District Court
- Small Claims in Housing Court
- Small Claims Forms
- Multilingual Videos Explaining the Small Claims Process
- I Won My Small Claim Before the Magistrate, What Can I Do Now?
- I Lost My Small Claim Before the Magistrate, What Can I Do Now?