You have probably seen all sorts of businesses from plumbers, fencing companies, notaries, flood restoration, movers, and auto detailing companies referring to themselves as having a “d.b.a.” You might even be one of these businesses. But what you may not know is that if you are a business which “does business as” [insert a catchy marketing title] you might not have the right to file a claim in small claims court, if you fail to ensure you have a proper fictitious business name (FBN).
California’s Bus. & Prof Code §17918 provides that:
No person transacting business under a fictitious business name contrary to the provisions of this chapter, or his assignee, may maintain any action upon or on account of any contract made, or transaction had, in the fictitious business name in any court of this state until the fictitious business name statement has been executed, filed, and published as required by this chapter. . .
In the event you did not have a proper FBN as required by law your small claims case would be dismissed by the court without prejudice. This means that at best you would have to start over and get a short continuance. At worst, this could mean you have to re-serve the defendant and incur additional costs or even worse, lose contact with the defendant and this could jeopardize your entire case.