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Want to sue American Airlines in small claims court?

Your Guide to Sue American Airlines in Small Claims Court

The terms of service contract you signed with American Airlines probably contains language that prevents you from filing or joining a class action lawsuit. However, you have the right to sue American Airlines in small claims court. Here’s is what you need to know before filing your claim.

 

1

MAKE SURE YOUR CLAIM QUALIFIES FOR SMALL CLAIMS COURT

Are you ready to sue American Airlines in small claims court? Small claims courts are only for certain types of claims, so your first step is to make sure your claim can be filed. There are two things you need to pay attention to:

  1. The amount of money: Every small claims court sets a maximum dollar size for the claim you can bring. In most states it’s either $5000 or $10,000, but it can be as low as $2,500 (in Kentucky and Rhode Island). You can find a list of all 50 states’ monetary limits here.
  2. The type of relief: There are two types of awards that you can seek in a lawsuit – monetary (a dollar value payment) and equitable (any non-monetary request). Most small claims courts can only grant monetary awards.

If your claim doesn’t fall within the limits of your state’s small claims court, you’ll have to arbitrate your claim instead.

2

SEND A DEMAND LETTER.

Most small claims courts require that you ask the person you’re suing (the “defendant”) to fix your problem voluntarily before you file your claim. If you want to sue American Airlines in small claims court, you need to send them a demand letter first.

Your demand letter can be simple and straightforward. Explain who you are (your name, address, phone number and account number), what the problem is, and what you want from them. The whole letter can be a few sentences; remember that you are just checking a box before you file your actual claim.

When you’re done writing, you need to mail a hard copy of the letter, preferably as certified mail or some other service that allows you to confirm delivery, to their legal address. American Airlines is legally based in Delaware and receives mail at this address :

AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.
THE CORPORATION TRUST COMPANY
CORPORATION TRUST CENTER 1209 ORANGE ST
WILMINGTON, DE 19801

If you would like examples of demand letters or more information about how to write them, refer to this excellent guide.

3

FILL OUT COURT FORMS.

In order to sue American Airlines in small claims court, you’re going to need to fill out some paperwork.

Each state has a set of forms that need to be filled out to file a claim, and sometimes counties will provide additional forms. The correct forms for your location will be available for free on your state court’s website.

Make sure you fill out enough forms. Most states that require you to file forms by mail or in-person will ask for 3 or 4 copies. If you don’t have the right number of copies, they will not accept your claim.

4

FILE YOUR COMPLAINT FORM WITH THE COURT.

When you’re done filling out the forms, it’s time to give those forms to the court. This process, which is called “filing,” can be a bit complex.

Many courts will require you to stop by the courthouse during specific hours and days to hand-deliver the forms to the court’s clerk. Other courts may allow you to file by mail, fax or (for a few courts) online.

All courts will require you to pay a filing fee before they allow you to sue American Airlines in small claims court. This fee, which will be published on your court’s website, can sometimes be waved if you are a low income plaintiff.

When you file your forms, the court clerk will provide you with a stamped copy of the forms and a court date. Keep it secure, and bring it with you on the day of the hearing.

5

“SERVE” YOUR FORMS ON AMERICAN AIRLINES.

If you’ve made it this far, good work! Suing American Airlines in small claims is a long and difficult process.

Now that you’ve filed the papers required to start your case against American Airlines, you need to tell American Airlines that you have sued the company. This is a called “serving” American Airlines. To do this, you need to deliver a copy of your filed papers to American Airlines.

Look at your court’s website for instructions on how to deliver your forms properly to American Airlines, or search for “[your state] small claims service of process”. Courts have many strange rules about how to serve a defendant, and your claim will be dropped if you do not follow them perfectly.

6

SHOW UP FOR YOUR COURT DATE.

When the court clerk gives you a court date (after you file your forms), make sure to put it on your calendar.

Make sure you know which courthouse the hearing is to take place. Bring a copy of your filed forms, and any other evidence that backs up your case against American Airlines.

Sometimes, American Airlines will not show up to oppose you. If that happens, take advantage of the situation to focus on your side of the story.

Ready to sue American Airlines in small claims court?
If this sounds too hard and expensive, try consumer arbitration instead…

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