Your Guide to Sue Santander Consumer USA in Small Claims Court

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Recent news: On May 19, 2020, Santander Consumer USA agreed to pay $550 Million in settlements with 33 states and DC (which states?) over allegations that Santander Consumer USA “violated consumer protection laws by placing borrowers with subprime credit into auto loans it knew carried a high probability of default,” according to Reuters.

If you are wondering “What does the Santander Consumer USA settlement mean for me?” you should keep an eye on the news and on your mailbox. Usually if you are eligible for compensation under a legal action like this you will be contacted by mail about next steps.

For information on how to start your own claim against Santander Consumer USA in Small Claims Court, start below. For more information on consumer arbitration against Santander Consumer USA, start here.

1

Be sure your claim qualifies for small claims court.

Before you can sue Santander Consumer USA, you have to make sure your claim qualifies. There are two things you need to pay attention to:

  1. The amount of money: There are minimum and maximum monetary amounts in each small claims court, so your claim has to fall within those parameters. 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 also certain types of awards you can get in a lawsuit, two things the court can award you. The first is a monetary award (a dollar value payment). The second is an 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 Santander Consumer USA your demand letter.

Before you sue Santander Consumer USA, small claims courts require that you ask the person you’re suing (the “defendant”) to fix your problem voluntarily. You are effectively giving them the chance to fix the problem before you actually sue.
Legally you have to send a demand letter which can be as simple as a few sentences telling them who you are (your name, address, phone number and account number), what the problem is, and what you want from them.

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. Santander Consumer Usa is legally based in Delaware and receives mail at this address :

Santander Consumer USA, Inc.
C T Corporation System
208 SO Lasalle ST, Suite 814
Chicago, IL 60604

If you would like examples of demand letters or more information about how to write them, you can find an excellent guide here.

3

Fill out forms.

If you qualify, and if they don’t respond to your demand letter, you can sue Santander Consumer USA only after you fill out the 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, they will not accept your claim.

4

“File” your complaint with the court.

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

Having the right forms isn’t always enough. Courts will require you to physically come to 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.

In addition to the forms, the courts will require you to pay a filing fee before they allow your to sue Santander Consumer USA in small claims. 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 safe and bring it with you on the day of your hearing.

5

“Serve” your forms to Santander Consumer USA.

You’ve done a lot, but it’s not over yet. Suing Santander Consumer Usa in small claims is a long and tough process.

Now that you’ve filed the papers required to start your case against the company you have to tell them that you are suing them. This is called “Serving”. You “serve” the company their copies of the forms you filed with the courts, notifying them you are suing Santander Consumer USA

Look at your court’s website for instructions on how to properly deliver your forms to Santander Consumer Usa, 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. So be careful!

6

Go to your court date.

When the court clerk gives you a court date (after you file your forms), make sure you don’t miss it. Go to the right place, at the right time, with the copies of your filed forms and any other evidence to substantiate your reason for suing Santander Consumer USA.

Sometimes, Santander Consumer USA 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 Santander Consumer Usa in small claims court?
If this sounds too hard and expensive, try consumer arbitration instead…


*States involved in the May 2020 Santander Consumer USA settlement:

Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia

(Source: Chicago Tribune)

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