December 17, 2014
How to Sue for a "Stop Payment" Check

If you sue someone who has stopped payment on a check written to you, it is possible under some circumstances to be awarded the damages allowed by the "bad check" law under section 1719 of the California Civil Code. These damages would be, in addition to the face value of the check, three times the amount of the check with at least a $100 penalty and a maximum of $1500.

The following conditions must be met in the case of a stop payment check:

  1. You must send the maker of the check by certified mail a notice providing the information given in the sample below.
  2. You must produce in court a copy of your written demand and a signed, certified mail receipt showing its delivery, or attempted delivery if refused, to the maker's address.
  3. You must prove that the maker did not stop payment in order to resolve a good faith dispute with you. Examples of a good faith dispute would be the maker's claim that the goods were not delivered, were defective or that there was an overcharge.
  4. You must be able to show in court that you made a reasonable effort to resolve the dispute before going to court.

If you have not received payment within 30 days from the date you mailed the notice you may file your claim in Small Claims or the Civil Division of the Superior Court.

Notice
(Sample: STOP PAYMENT CHECK DEMAND LETTER)
Send Certified mail, return receipt requested

Date:____________(insert date here)

__________________ (insert name of check writer here)

__________________ (insert address here)

__________________ (insert name of Check Recipient/Payee here) is the payee of a check you wrote for $________ (insert amount of check here).

The check was not paid because you stopped payment, and the payee demands payment. You may have a good faith dispute as to whether you owe the full amount. If you do not have a good faith dispute with the payee and fail to pay the payee (1) the full amount of the check in cash, (2) a service charge of an amount not to exceed twenty-five dollars ($25) for the first check passed on insufficient funds and an amount not to exceed thirty-five dollars ($35) for each subsequent check passed on insufficient funds, and (3) the costs to mail this notice within 30 days after this notice was mailed, you could be sued and held responsible to pay at least both of the following:

  1. The amount of the check.
  2. Damages of at least one hundred dollars ($100) or, if higher, three times the amount of the check up to one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500).

If the court determines that you do have a good faith dispute with the payee, you will not have to pay the service charge, treble damages, or mailing cost. If you stopped payment because you have a good faith dispute with the payee, you should try to work out your dispute with the payee. You can contact the payee at:

__________________ (insert name of payee/check recipient here)

__________________ (insert street address here)

You may wish to contact a lawyer to discuss your legal rights and responsibilities.

____________________________ (your signature)

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