Can I sue for punitive damages regarding a collection debt?

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Can I sue for punitive damages regarding a collection debt?

I am a landscaper and a mobile home park owes a $1,500 invoice that is over 90 days late. I have tried numerous times to collect, while they give every excuse not to pay when the work has been completed. Because i can not get this money, I have fell behind on some expenses and have had to use my savings. Is it possible to sue for double in my case? This company is known for “duping” others.

Asked on January 9, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Punitive damages are not applicable in this type of case for debt collection.

You could charge a late fee, but it could not be double what you are owed.  Late charges would be a percentage of the amount owed.

You can file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court for breach of contract based on an account stated for the amount you are owed.  Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit) should include the amount you are owed plus the court filing fee and process server fee.


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