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Here is a quick summary of my situation:

  1. April 2018: leased an apartment in Chicago until September 2019
  2. June 2019: extended lease for 12 months
  3. July 2019: loss of job
  4. September 2019: accepted a job offer in California.
  5. October 2019: Moved to California

Worked with the landlord to find a person to take over my apartment. The apartment was leased. I am a cosigner (my mistake, but nonetheless I am on the hook). One year passes by.

  1. June 2020: landlord sends me a balance notice of $4k to mee threatening collection since the person moved out earlier than the lease extension has expired.

Since I made a mistake and cosigned a lease I am on the hook and in the process of negotiation with the landlord hoping to reduce $4k burden since it is a lot for me

My question to the community is whether I can come after the person who took over my lease and sue them.

I am currently residing in CA, and the apartment is in IL. I do not know much about the person that took over my lease except their name. Can I file a suit against that person in a small claim court and if so, how can I manage this if I am in CA and the court is in IL?

What are my options?

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You can sue remotely, but probably not in California.

Laws vary somewhat from state to state, but generally speaking, you need to ensure the court you go to has jurisdiction over the case, jurisdiction over the defendant, and that you're in the right venue.

The best way to make sure you check all those boxes is by filing your lawsuit in the court where the wrongdoing happened. Your next best bet is the court where the defendant lives.

In terms of handling it remotely, you can file documents by mail or fax in virtually every court. The harder part is personally appearing when necessary, but most courts have now developed protocols to allow you to handle litigation remotely. I have no idea what the situation is in Chicago, but I'd bet that a court that size is now regularly zooming litigants in for hearings.

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    Practice on remote appearances varies a great deal. It is more widely available during COVID times and more widely available in big cities. But that is hardly uniform. For example, neither the U.S. bankruptcy court in Los Angeles, nor the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, allows for remote participation, even in hearings that only last 15 minutes or so and don't involve the presentation of any evidence. On the other hand, the bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York does allow remote appearances as do a majority of appellate courts, post-COVID. Small claims courts rarely allow it. – ohwilleke Aug 26 '20 at 20:24

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