Massachusetts Uniform Small Claims
Rule 2: Filing a Statement of Claim
(a) Statement of Claim. Each small claims action shall be begun on a Statement of Claim form. The claim shall be stated in concise, untechnical language, but with particularity and comprehensiveness. A statement shall not be insufficient merely because the plaintiff has failed to allege all the elements of a prima facie case. The plaintiff shall state specifically any amounts sought for damages, for multiple damages or statutory penalties, for attorney’s fees, and for costs, as well as the total amount being sought, exclusive of any prejudgment interest being sought from the court pursuant to G.L. c. 231, §§ 6B or 6C. If requested by the plaintiff or if otherwise feasible and appropriate to facilitate the filing of a legible and complete claim that conforms to the requirements of this rule, the clerk shall provide assistance to the plaintiff in completing the form. The clerk shall provide necessary and helpful procedural information to small claims litigants if requested.
(b) Additional Requirements for plaintiffs in trade or commerce or pursuing assigned debt. Any plaintiff pursuing a claim incurred in the course of plaintiff’s trade or commerce, or pursuing a claim for assigned debt, shall file along with the Statement of Small Claim form the Verification of Defendant’s Address form, certifying that he or she has verified the defendant’s mailing address in the manner set forth therein. The form need not be served on the defendant.
Any such plaintiff shall include the following information in the description of claim in the Statement of Small Claim form when the claim is filed with the court:
(1) The name of the original creditor (if different from plaintiff’s);
(2) The last four digits of the account number assigned by the original creditor, if any; and
(3) The amount and date of the defendant’s last payment, if any.
If the plaintiff fails to comply with this section and the defendant does not appear at the scheduled trial, no default judgment shall be entered for the plaintiff and the claim shall be dismissed without prejudice.
(c) Filing with the Clerk. A claim may be filed in person or by mail. In either case, except where waived by the clerk of the court under the Indigent Court Costs Law (G.L. c. 261, §§ 27A-27G), the claim shall be accompanied by the entry fee required by G.L. c. 218, § 22 and the surcharge required by G.L. c. 262, § 4C. The clerk shall provide a copy of the Statement of Small Claim form to the plaintiff as soon as is practicable, which copy shall show the date and time of trial. The date the Statement of Small Claim form is received by the clerk shall constitute the date of commencement of the claim.
As amended, effective November 30, 1989, effective January 1, 2002, and effective October 1, 2009.
Commentary to 2009 Amendments. Section (a) has been amended to require the plaintiff to state specifically any amounts sought for damages, for multiple damages or statutory penalties, for attorney’s fees, and for costs, as well as the total amount sought, exclusive of any statutory prejudgment interest. This provides the defendant with a breakdown of the amount being claimed and assists the court in determining the amount of any award. It does not limit the amount of the court’s award except for default judgments. Such a breakdown of the elements of the plaintiff’s claim is already required in regular civil cases by Dist./Mun. Cts. Supp. R. Civ. P. 106(B).
Section (b) introduces two additional requirements for plaintiffs in trade or commerce or pursuing assigned debt. Such plaintiffs must verify the defendant’s current address in one of several specified ways and certify this when filing the Statement of Small Claim. This enhanced filing requirement is intended to increase the likelihood that the defendant will receive notice of the claim when it is mailed.
Such plaintiffs must also provide three items of basic information which will help the defendant to identify the debt that is the basis of the claim. Such information may be particularly important when the plaintiff is an assignee rather than the original creditor. For privacy reasons, only the last four digits of the original creditor’s account number are to be given.
If the defendant fails to appear for trial, the plaintiff’s failure to comply with this section will result in denial of a default judgment and in dismissal of the claim without prejudice.
Commentary to 2001 Amendments. The change in the first paragraph is intended to encourage court personnel to provide procedural information and to assist claimants in the preparation of forms.