Forsyth County Small Claims Court

Forsyth County Small Claims Court

How Much Time Does a Defendant Have to Answer?

After the case is filed the court clerk serves the defendant with a copy of the claim along with a summons. From that point, the defendant has thirty days to respond or answer.

Default Judgments

If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing or respond to the claim, the judge can issue a default judgment against the defendant. If it is granted, the plaintiff is entitled to the amount of damages asked for in the suit, plus court costs. An additional hearing by the court will be necessary if the plaintiff asked for something that does not have a specific dollar amount. The defendant has only thirty days to respond to the caim. Once defendant fails to respond, the defendant is in “default.”

When will my hearing date be?

The court selects the hearing date after the defendant responds to the claim in Forsyth County. The date for the hearing is usually fifteen to thirty days after the defendant files an answer.
Forsyth County Small Claims Court

Forsyth County Small Claims Court

Small Claims courts are also called Magistrate Courts in Forsyth County. If you are unable to settle a dispute with a person or business, the matter can be filed in magistrate court.
The magistrate or small claims court was designed so that disputes under a certain amount ($15,000) could be handled informally. They are designed to quickly and inexpensively settle the dispute.

Locations for Forsyth County Small Claims Court

The magistrate court for Forsyth County is located at:

1090 Tribble Gap Road
Cumming, GA 30040

It can be reached by telephone at: 770-781-2211. The fax number is 770-844-7581. The magistrate judge is Chief Magistrate Walker H. Bramblett.

Appealing a Judgment

If a party is not satisfied with the court’s decision, that party may file an appeal. The appeal is heard in the state or superior court of Forsyth County. For the appeal, either party may request a jury trial (remember you aren’t entitled to a jury trial in magistrate court). Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the judge’s decision.

Defendant’s Counterclaim

The defendant is able to sue the plaintiff (this is called a counterclaim). The defendant can file a counterclaim against the plantiff’s original claim if it is related to it, and the total money claimed by the defendant is less than $15,000. The counterclaim will likely be heard the same day as the plaintiff’s claim.

Which Types of Cases are Usually filed in Forsyth County Small Claims Court?

These are some examples of the types of cases that are filed in magistrate court:

  • A tenant refuses to pay for damages which are more than the security deposit
  • Renter fails to pay rent or Owner seeks to evict renter
  • Tenant moves out and landlord refuses to return security deposit
  • A Merchant fails to address issues with faulty merchandise
  • A person who borrowed money refuses to return it
  • Business loses or damages personal property and refuses to pay
  • Automobile shop conducts unnecessary repairs or work on your car

Can I hire an attorney?

In County cases, you may hire an attorney to represent you but are not required to do so. You are able to file the case on your own completely without the assistance of an attorney. Small Claims court judges are heard and decided without a jury. Sometimes, mediation is recommended or required before the judge will hear the case.

Hearing Procedures and Mediation

Some counties require you to go to mediation before a hearing in front of a judge. Mediation is a dispute resolution tool designed to try and resolve the case by meeting with an independent third party who can evaluate the case and try to reach a settlement that is agreeable to all parties. Even if the parties are agreeable to settling the case through mediation, a plaintiff may still ask the defendant to pay court costs. If mediation is not successful, the case will proceed to the hearing. The court will also allow the plaintiff and defendant to question or dispute each other’s evidence during the hearing. When both parties are done, the judge will issue a decision (or judgment). The court may award damages to the plaintiff, defendant, both, or none of the parties depending on what the facts of the case warrant.
The court has several options if the plaintiff does not appear at the hearing:

  • Allow the defendant to present evidence and render a decision without hearing from plaintiff
  • Postpone the case until a later date
  • Dismiss the case

If the defendant does not show at the hearing, the court has the authority to grant a default judgment against the defendant. The name comes from the fact that because the defendant does not show, the plaintiff wins the case by “default.” We recommend making sure you attend the hearing regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant (regardless of whether you think the case is good or bad).

Can I file my case in Forsyth County?

If the defendant is a person, the case must be filed in the County where they live. If the person you are suing is a corporation, the case must be filed in the County where the registered agent for service of process is located. To find the registered agent, contact the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State either online or at 404-656-2817. If the defendant is an unincorporated business (fancy for is not a corporation), file the case in the county where the business is physically located (ie. if the business is located in Forsyth County, file it here).
Plaintiff has to also pay a filing fee which is submitted with the initial paperwork. A portion of the filing fee is for the cost for the court clerk to serve one defendant. The filing fee varies by each county but is generally between $45 and $55. If an additional defendant is named in the action, there will be an extra charge for the court to serve the additional party. The extra charge is usually between $25 to $35 and caries by county.
The court clerk can direct you to the necessary forms and will check them for completeness once you have filled them out. However, the clerk is prohibited by law from giving legal advice. For example, the court clerk would be able to review your completed forms to make sure your signature is in the appropriate blanks but is not able to tell you which defendant you should sue. Additionally, the clerk will not be able to tell you if they think you will win your case (so don’t bother asking).

Filing Procedures for Forsyth Small Claims Court cases

The case begins with the plaintiff filing a sworn statement with the magistrate court clerk in the proper county. A sworn statement states the claims made against the defendant and includes the facts giving rise to the claim. At a minimum, the sworn statement should include the following facts:

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the plaintiff (and attorney if there is one)(Make sure this is correct as this is how the court will contact you if there are any issues)
  • Include the name and street address of the defendant (this is what the court will use to serve the defendant)
  • The amount of money the plaintiff is requesting
  • Detail why the defendant is being sued (and why this defendant owes the money)
  • Copies of all relevant documents regarding the claim (for example, any contracts, receipts, etc.)
  • Preparing for the Hearing

    The following steps are recommended to prepare for the hearing:

    • Collect all the documents you need for your case. Also prepare extra copies for the judge and other party (or parties)
    • Communicate with any witnesses you intend to call to prove your case. Confirm they are available on the day of the hearing.
    • If you need to bring in a witness to prove your case and the witness is not being cooperative with you, prepare a subpoena.
    • If you need additional documents for your case, you can issue a subpoena for those documents to obtain documents from other parties.
    • A subpoena is a documnt which can be completed by you and issued by the court which commands a person to appear in court and may require them to bring certain documents to court as well.
    • You can obtain a subpoena from the Forsyth County Clerk for the Magistrate Court.

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