Who Do You Serve if You’re Suing a Business or Government Agency?

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If suing a sole proprietorship
Serve the individual who owns the business, or the manager or person in charge of the business.

If suing a partnership 

  • If you're just suing the general partnership, serve one of the partners. 
  • If you're suing the general partnership and the partners, serve each partner. 
  • If you're suing a limited partnership, serve the agent for service Opens new window or the general partner.

If suing a corporation
Try serving the agent for service, if possible.  If not, serve one of the officers of the corporation: the president, vice-president, secretary, or chief executive officer.  Or, serve the general manager of the business location where the problem occurred.

You can find out the name of the corporation's agent for service at the web site of the California Secretary of StateOpens new window The Web site can also tell you how to write to the Secretary of State to get more information about the corporation, such as a list of the corporation's officers.

If suing the county
Serve the county clerk or agent authorized to accept service.  Check your county's web site Opens new window for the clerk's address and telephone number. Or find the address and phone number in the government pages of your phone book.

If suing the city
Serve the city clerk or agent authorized to accept service.  Find the address and phone number in the government pages of your phone book.  It's usually listed in the city section, under “clerk.”

If suing the state
You can serve the State Attorney General's office if you are suing the California Highway Patrol, or most consumer affairs boards. If you are suing Caltrans, you must serve the California Department of Transportation.  For the Headquarters’ address, click hereOpens new window 

For the mailing address of the Office of the Attorney General, click here Opens new window 

Call the Attorney General's office at 1-800-952-5225 for more information.

NOTE:  You can't sue the federal government in small claims court. Contact an attorney for advice if you are going to sue the federal government.

See a chart called How to Serve a Business or Public Entity (Small Claims)
(Form SC-104C) Opens new window




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