April 17, 2014
Where to File a Claim

A Small Claims Court case must be filed in the proper court or Venue as it is sometimes called.

The proper place to file your case is where the Defendant (the person you are suing) lives or does business. See below for a list of cities and locations within San Mateo Court's venue.

If your claim is about a signed contract, you can file where the contract was signed or where the Defendant lived or did business at the time the contract was signed or agreed to, or where the contract was to be performed.

If the Defendant is a corporation, you can sue where the contract was breached. In cases involving injury or property damage, file where the injury or damage occurred or where the defendant or defendants live.

If you do not have a signed contract, and you are suing because the Defendant owes you money for goods, services, loans or extensions of credit for personal, family or household use, file your case in the judicial district in which the defendant lived when the agreement or oral contract was entered into or in which the defendant now lives.

If you are suing because of money owed on a retail installment account, a sales contract, or a motor vehicle finance sale, you can sue in one of the following judicial districts:

  • Where the buyer lives;
  • Where the buyer lived when the contract was entered into;
  • Where the buyer signed the contract;
  • Where the goods or vehicle are permanently kept.
  • Likewise, actions arising from an offer of goods or services intended primarly for personal or household (i.e. consumer) use may be brought where the Plaintiff resides.

If the proper venue for your small claims action is within San Mateo County based on the information above, your filing must be submitted to the small claims clerk's office located in Room A of the Hall of Justice at 400 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063

If you think you are being sued in the wrong venue, request a dismissal. Be sure to write to the court well in advance of the trial date and state the grounds for the dismissal. You can also appear on the trial date and request a dismissal. If the court agrees with you, the case will be dismissed unless all Defendants are present and agree to have the trial.

San Mateo Court's venue:
Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, Woodside, East Palo Alto, and all unincorporated areas (including La Honda and the southern coastal area south of Tunitas Creek Road, including Pescadero and San Gregorio), Belmont, Burlingame, El Granada, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Miramar, Montara, Moss Beach, San Mateo and adjoining unincorporated areas and the S.F. International Airport, Brisbane, Daly City (including Westlake), Pacifica, San Bruno, South San Francisco, the northern coastal towns and all unincorporated areas in the northern end of the county, including Colma and Broadmoor.

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