Removing the Case to District Court
Removing the case to regular district court allows both parties to be represented by attorneys but also removes the $6,000 limit. Removal to district court means the normal rules and procedures apply including specifically procedures related to the presentation of evidence and discovery process. Either party can request to move the case out of small claims court. To do so, a party needs to complete and file a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims, in the court where the case is set to be heard. The document needs to be filed before the small claims court trial or hearing. The form can be found here.
Ruling After a Small Claims Court Hearing
The court can make a decision at the time of the hearing (after both sides have presented their case). The court may also take the case under submission (and rule at a later time). If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.
Allegan County Small Claims Court Hearings
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presents.
What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- Ignoring the Case (which could end up with the court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case Outside of Court
- Transferring the Case out of Small Claims Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing
Resolving a Case without a Hearing
Frequently, a court may attempt to resolve a case without an actual hearing. Mediation is the tool that a court may try to use to settle a case. In mediation, a mediator will meet with both parties, discuss the case, and try and work towards an agreement that both sides can live with in the hopes of resolving the case without a trial.
Allegan County Small Claims Court Cases
57th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Allegan County. Small claims court is a special court in Michigan designed for people to settle monetary disputes without the aid of attorneys. Neither the plaintiff not the defendant need to know anything about the law in order to utilize small claims court. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients in small claims court. Neither party needs to hire an attorney for small claims court cases (but can consult with one for questions about their case). In small claims court, a party need only present their own side of their case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 57th District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
What kind of cases can be filed in small claims court?
Civil cases where a party is seeking $6,000 or less can be filed in small claims court. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. If a plaintiff wants specific property or the court to make an order regarding specific performance, small claims court is not the property place to file the case. Common types of cases handled in small claims court include the following:
- Traffic Collisions
- Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
- Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Allegan County?
Small Claims courts cannot award more than $6,000 to a party. If a plaintiff filed a case in small claims court that is worth more than six thousand dollars, the plaintiff can still choose to file the case in small claims court. If they do, the party waives their right to recover any amount above six thousand. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.
Where Should a case be filed?
A case should be filed in the district court where the defendant resides, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transaction involved in the case occurred. Where the case is filed is called venue. Filing in the wrong district court can postpone your case being heard, force you to pay additional filing and service fees, and/or have your case be dismissed. The court staff of the 57th District Court cannot provide advice, but it can tell you the geographic location the court serves. It is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm you have the proper venue.
Can I have an attorney Represent me in Small Claims Court?
Parties are not allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. Each side is required to represent himself or herself in front of the court. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court where both sides can have an attorney. The disadvantage to this is that district court uses normal rules of discovery and presentation of evidence which means the case will take much longer to reach a conclusion.
Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court
Once the case is filed, the court will attempt to provide the defendant with proper notice of the case by giving the defendant a copy of the Affidavit and Claim form initially filled out by the plaintiff. The plaintiff must pay for this cost of service. Service is how the defendant learns of the lawsuit and when the case will be heard. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.
Allegan County Small Claims Court Location
57th District Court handles small claims court cases in Allegan County. 57th District CourtAllegan County Building 113 Chestnut St. Allegan, MI 49010
The phone number for Allegan County District Court is: (269) 673-0400. The Allegan County District Court can be found online here.
How do I file a Small Claims court case in Allegan County?
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 57th District Court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. The fees for filing a small claims court case are:
- $30 – for claims up to $600
- $50 – for claims between $600 and $1,750
- $70 – for claims between $1,750 and up to $6,000
If the plaintiff prevails in the case, the court may award the filing fee to the plaintiff as part of the costs of the action. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the case number. You should keep this court case number handy as it will help you identify your case when you speak with court staff or complete paperwork associated with your case. In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
Who Hears My Case in Allegan County Small Claims Court
Juries are not available for a small claims court case. Small Claims Court cases are only heard in front of an attorney magistrate or a judge. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. In most instances, an attorney magistrate will hear your case.
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
Both parties should gather all evidence well before the hearing. This includes any contracts, written agreements, receipts, photographs, or videos that involve the subject matter of your case. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. You should write out or prepare what you plan on saying ahead of time. If you have witnesses who also have information that will support your position, you should make arrangements to have them present for the hearing so they can present testimony.