I live in California and am being sued by someone in Small Claims court who moved into my apartment for about two months with the intention of becoming a formal 'roommate' but, ultimately, had to relocate because the landlord declined her application to be added to my lease which, at that point, violated my rental agreement with regard to the addition of subtenants being subject to the owner's approval.

The grounds for her lawsuit are that I "rented her an apartment without permission" and is now seeking $10,000 (the statutory maximum in Small Claims court) for "relocation expenses and legal fees".

While I do question that premise entirely my question is regarding the nebulous nature of her so-called damages with regard to her just claiming them to be expenses borne of her having to move. Is it sufficient for a Plaintiff to simply declare a sort of 'summary' of their damages without providing any greater detail to the Defendant such as an itemization of the actual expenses for their review? She claims that it is and that she has no obligation to provide me with any line-item detail apart from whatever she might reveal to me during discovery the day of the trial.

I'm just curious as to whether or not there is some sort of statute that would entitle a defendant to a more detailed accounting of what they are actually being sued for? If there is such a provision, how would that be enforced if the Plaintiff, for whatever reason, decides the cannot or will not furnish the Defendant with that information? What happens if the Defendant loses? Do they then just get slapped with a $10,000 judgment with no recourse to acquire some sort of accounting detail that is more specific than the handful of words the Plaintiff uses to summarize their damages on the Summons and Complaint form?

1 Answer 1


Your lawyer would tell the court what he or she thinks about each and every claim by the plaintiff. In this case, your lawyer would say that she read the claim of $10,000 but doesn't believe a word of it and wants to see evidence. Not just an itemisation, but evidence of the cost. Your lawyer will express this a bit nicer than I do :-)

Once your lawyer has evidence of the cost, your lawyer will say that there may have been cost, but no damages that you are responsible for.

"During the day of the trial" is nonsense, as your lawyer will tell the court. Again, your lawyer won't use the word "nonsense", but the judge will know what he or she means. And the judge knows it is nonsense, but your lawyer must tell the judge, or you lose.

At the day of your trial your lawyer will then happily point out that he hasn't seen one bit of evidence of the claimed damages.

Did I tell you you need a lawyer? It seems you ran into someone who rented a third-rate lawyer to try to shake you down. No problem if you have a lawyer.

Summary: You are not entitled to anything, but if you ask for evidence for the claimed damages, and the plaintiff doesn't provide that evidence long before the trial for your lawyer to examine, then the plaintiff will get nothing.

  • 2
    Please fix or delete this answer, as it is wrong. "I live in California and am being sued by someone in Small Claims" Small claims = no lawyers on either side.
    – sharur
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:25
  • To clarify sharur's point, California specifically requires you to represent yourself in small-claims court (though even if you could have a lawyer it might not be cost-effective).
    – JAB
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .