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Filing a Small Claims Complaint

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The Commission is temporarily waiving certain requirements related to paper filing of documents, ink signatures, and service by mail of complaints in 46 C.F.R. part 502. See the following links for more information:

Waiver of Certain Filing Requirements Due to COVID19 [PDF, 80.2 KB]

A small claim may be filed to seek reparations (damages) from another individual or company (the Respondent) for economic injury not exceeding $50,000 caused by violations of the Shipping Act of 1984 (46 U.S.C. 411).

The Commission provides a standard format for filing a small claims complaint.  All small claims complaint filings should follow this standard format. You may not simply sign and submit the exhibit. The information shown in brackets is to guide you regarding what information you must provide.

Small Claims are determined by a settlement officer using informal procedures and are governed by Commission rules found at 46 CFR 502.301-502.305. Please review these rules before filing an informal complaint.

Please note that a Respondent may object to the informal procedure within 25 days of being served. Should Respondent refuse the informal procedure, the claim will be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge for formal adjudication under Subpart T of the Commission’s rules.

A small claims complaint must:

  • State a section of the Shipping Act  found in 46 USC Chapter 411 you allege was violated
  • Be properly signed and sworn or verified by using a notary public or making one of the statements below and signing the name afterward
    • If you are located in the United States: “I declare (or certify, verify or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.”
    • If you are located outside the United States: “I declare (or certify, verify or state) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct.”
  • Be signed and dated
  • Include an original and two copies of the claim and supporting documentation
  • Be filed within three years from the time the cause of action accrued (i.e., the date the Shipping Act violation occurred)
  • Be mailed, with the appropriate filing fee to:

David Eng
Federal Maritime Commission
800 N. Capitol St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20573

Format for Filing a Small Claims Complaint