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Call Kurtis: Can I Sue Companies Based Out Of State In Small Claims Court?

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A Wilton man says a Sears technician damaged his new floors. When he says the courts here wouldn’t let him sue the company, it was time to call Kurtis.

He tried to sue in small claims court but was rejected because Sears’ address is in Illinois. Can you sue companies based out of state?

“Another cancer as far as I’m concerned,” says Michael Fischer of his experience.

Michael, a cancer survivor, says Sears denied his $1,128.43 claim to fix his floors after he says a Sears dishwasher installer damaged them.

“It was just sopping wet and it had caused the floor to buckle and warp,” says Michael.

Now he says Sacramento Small Claims Court won’t let him sue Sears because the Sears address he provided to serve the company is out of state.

“It’s just been wall after wall after wall that I’ve run into and can’t get past,” says Michael.

Does that mean he has to travel to Illinois to sue Sears where they’re based?

“You can absolutely sue them in California in Small Claims Court,” says Dana Wallack, a supervising attorney with Sacramento County’s Small Claims Advisory Clinic.

Wallack says Michael’s request to serve Sears was rejected because he provided the company’s corporate headquarter’s address in Illinois. She says companies doing business in California must have a place within the state to be served but it’s up to you to find that address.

“All you have to do is go to the Secretary of State of California’s web site, they have a business entity search engine,” says Wallack.

And sure enough, we found an address for Sears in Los Angeles.

We reached out to Sears and its claims company, Sedgwick CMS, about Michael’s concerns the installer damaged his floor.

The company’s response: “After a full investigation, it was determined that that the damage to the floor is not consistent with the area of service or the amount of water produced by the service performed,” according to Kimberly Freely, a spokeswoman for Sears Holdings Corporation

Michael and Sears will now have their day in Sacramento Small Claims Court.

“I don’t trust them anymore,” says Michael.

As of the start of the year, you can sue for $10,000 in small claims court in most cases.

Sears’ Full Statement

After a full investigation, it was determined that that the damage to the floor is not consistent with the area of service or the amount of water produced by the service performed, therefore the claim was denied. We sympathize with Mr. Fisher and his continued health struggles.

Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. (Sedgwick) serves as the third-party claims administrator for Sears Holdings Corporation (Sears). Sedgwick is properly licensed with the California Department of Insurance to conduct business there as a third-party administrator (TPA) and adjusting entity. The State of California requires that denial letters sent to claimants in that State includes specific language directing those who believe their claims were wrongfully denied to contact the California Department of Insurance.

In order to protect the confidentiality of our claimants, Sedgwick and Sears Holdings cannot publicly disclose details about individual claims. If a claimant has any additional documentation to support his/her claim, those materials should be provided to the Sedgwick claims adjuster of record and Sedgwick will review them in a timely manner.

– Kimberly Freely, Spokesperson, Sears Holdings Corporation

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