These days we have no shortage of places to shop or things to buy. From big box stores, to boutiques and everything in between - from swap meets, and yard sales, and the growing world of online retailers, you can buy just about anything.
An Australian reality show director recently caused a stir when a young woman auctioneed off her virginity for $780,000 and there’s a website which lists the more mundane and strange things people can buy. Ever want to tuck your child into the mouth of a great white shark sleeping bag? How about band-aids that look like bacon? Recyled motherboard pens, a USB Flash Drive that does double duty as a bottle opener, and a Super Mario dress up costume are all out there waiting for just the right buyer.
So what about buying someone’s “right to sue?” This question actually comes up in the context of small claims where the person who has the claim, the claimant, lives outside California and cannot make it to this state to enforce their claim.
Being creative you may think, ”Well, why can’t I just sell my right to sue Mr. X, to Mr. Y?” If you can’t appear in small claims court because you live out of state and you do not meet one of the technical excpetions I wrote about last time, this is a pretty logical question.
But can you really sell your “right to sue?”
As strange as it might sound, there are circumstances where one person can “step into the shoes” of another and pursue a claim where it is “assigned” to them but this is not allowed in small claims court. “No claim shall be filed or maintained in small claims court by the assignee of the claim.” (C.C.P. Section 116.420).
Under some very technical circumsances an action can be filed or defended by someone else. For example, a trustee in bankruptcy or a “holder of a security agreement, retail installment contract, or lien contract subject to the Unruh Act . . . or the Automobile Sales Finance Act . . . purchased by the holder for the holder’s portfolio of investments, provided that the holder is not an assignee for the purpose of collection.”
So if you live in Boston and you don’t get that $5,000.00 Star Wars Wookie Rug you ordered online from someone in San Diego, you can’t sell your “right to sue” the rug dealer to someone in San Diego.