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I'm friends with a small group of people (4 or so) who have been scammed ($500-$3000 each) by a vendor. If they want to try to recover damages in small claims court, would they be able to be plaintiffs on the same case, or would they have to file cases separately?

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It isn't explicitly prohibited so long as the amount claimed is in the aggregate less than $20,000. But, it would probably be better to file separately.

First, very simple single party, single transaction cases are what small claims court is designed to do, and going against the flow often creates unforeseen confusion for the judge in the Justice Court who isn't a sophisticated civil litigation expert. The Justices of the Peace who preside over Justice Courts that handle small claims cases in Texas often aren't and don't have to be lawyers or even high school graduates.

Second, if you sue as a group, and one of your group is the lead person handling the case (and that person isn't a lawyer), the lead person is at grave risk of being found to be practicing law without a license by taking actions in a lawsuit on behalf of your fellow plaintiffs.

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