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Can I Sue a Business Headquartered Out-of-State?

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Generally, businesses that do not operate in California can only be sued in the states where they were organized or are headquartered, or where they operate.

NOTE: You CAN use a California small claims court to sue a company if the business has an office, a warehouse, retail establishment, restaurant, or other physical facility in California – even if that business is headquartered or organized somewhere else.

If you are suing a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) that operates in California, you can find its name and its agent for service Opens new window (who would have a California address) at the website of the California Secretary of State. Opens new window

NOTE: On the Plaintiff’s Claim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court (Form SC-100, page 2, number 2), you will name the company as a defendant. Put its out-of-state address on the “Street Address” line. Then, cross out “Mailing Address” and write in “Agent for Service” and write in the agent’s name and address there.

If you are suing a small business in the state in which it operates, you will need to learn about the law in the state where it is located. Usually, you can do some of this by looking at that state’s court website. 

  • Check to see if there are small claims courts in the state where the business you want to sue operates. 
  • Check to see if the state in which you wish to file the small claims suit allows documents to be filed by mail, or via the Internet. 
  • Check to see if attorneys are allowed at the trial there. You may be able to hire a local attorney to represent you in court.



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