Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today that will increase small claims court jurisdiction from $7,500 to $10,000 in most cases. The increase, backed by the Judicial Council, is the first in six years.
“For individuals with damages of less than $10,000 justice is difficult to come by, and the usual result is to settle at the jurisdictional limit,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. “Senate Bill 221 will help close that gap, and provide civil litigants access to a process that is fair, timely and affordable.”
Litigants will still be barred from filing more than two claims above $2,500 a year in small claims court. And until July 2015 the $7,500 cap will remain on bodily injury claims resulting from car accidents. Insurers had raised concerns that the $10,000 limit would stop them from defending their customers — even as they are contractually obligated to do — against lawsuits brought in small claims court.
Although some have suggested that increasing the small claims limit will encourage more litigation, statistics from the Administrative Office of the Courts show that the number of small claims filings has dropped by about a third over the last decade. The number of small claims lawsuits remained relatively flat after the last increase in 2005.
The new limit will take effect on Jan. 1
Don’t forget that according to SB 183, as of July 1, 2011, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in dwellings intended for human residence.
“SB 183 (Lowenthal)—Carbon Monoxide Detectors
SB 183 enacts the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 that requires an owner of a dwelling unit intended for human occupancy to install an approved carbon monoxide (CO) device in each existing dwelling unit with fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage, within the earliest applicable time period as follows.
- For all existing single-family dwelling units intended for human occupancy on or before July 1, 2011; and,
- For all other dwellings intended for human occupancy on or before January 1, 2013
SB 183 also (i) requires landlords to maintain these CO devices within must be operable when the tenant takes possession, (ii) allows the landlord, upon specified notice, to enter a rental unit to test and maintain the CO device; (iii) makes the tenant responsible for notifying the owner of inoperable or defective devices in their unit, and (iv) imposes a monetary fine on violations of these provisions. SB 183 also revises the statutory transfer disclosure statement that a seller of a manufactured home or a one-to-four unit residential property must provide to a buyer to add specified disclosure statements regarding CO devices including that their installation is not a precondition of sale or transfer.”
(California Real Property Journal- Vol. 29 num. 1)