How do I file a Small Claims court case in Baraga County?
A party wishing to file a small claims court case needs to complete a form(print out and complete). Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 97th 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 allow the plaintiff to request the cost of the filing fee be added to the damages in the case (and ultimately paid by the defendant). After the case has been filed, the clerk can provide you with a court 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.
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. This is commonly 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 97th 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.
Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- Removing the case to Regular District Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing
- Ignoring the Case (which may end up in a court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case
Can an attorney represent me in my Baraga County Small Claims Court Case?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff nor defendant can be represented by an attorney in small claims court. Each side is required to represent themselves in front of the judge or magistrate. Either the plaintiff or the defendant can request that the case be removed to regular district court from small claims court (which would allow either side to utilize the services of an attorney). However, regular district court follows the normal rules of evidence and procedures which mean the dispute will likely take significantly longer to resolve.
Will a Decision be made at the Hearing?
The court may make a decision at the hearing after both sides presented their evidence. Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).
Baraga County Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims Court cases in Baraga County Michigan are heard in 97th District Court. 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. In small claims court in Michigan, attorneys are not allowed to argue cases for clients. Because of this, a party does not need an attorney. At the hearing, a party is only expected to present their case in their own words. Small claims court is a special division of 97th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Removal of a Small Claims Court Case to 97th District Court
Removal of a case to regular district court allows both parties to hire an attorney (if they so choose) and also removes the $6,000 limit that the court can award. Moving the case to regular district court means the normal rules of evidence and discovery apply meaning the case will take much longer to resolve. A request for removal may be made by either the plaintiff or the defendant. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. This must be filed before the hearing starts, but can actually be filed the day of the hearing or anytime before the hearing. The form can be found here.
Settling a Case Without a Small Claims Court Trial
Often, a court may try to settle or resolve a case short of an actual trial. This can be done through a process called mediation. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.
Baraga County Small Claims Court Location
97th District Court handles small claims court cases in Baraga County. 97th District Court is located at:Baraga County Courthouse 16 N. Third L’Anse, MI 49946
The phone number for Baraga County District Court is: (906) 524-6100. The District Court can be found online here.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Baraga County?
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. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
Types of Cases in Small Claims Court
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. If a plaintiff (or defendant in a counter-claim) is seeking specific property or an order from the court requiring a person to take certain action, the case should not be filed in small claims court. 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
Serving the Defendant in a Small Claims Court Case
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 a way for the court to provide notice to the Defendant of your action so the Defendant can have proper time to respond and appear and provide a defense. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. It is strongly recommended you write out what you plan on saying before the hearing (at least an outline or bullet points). 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.
How Much Money Can a Party Sue for in Small Claims Court?
A small claims court in Baraga County cannot award a party more than $6,000 (not including court costs and other fees). If a plaintiff filed a case in small claims court that the plaintiff believes is worth more, the case can still be filed in small claims court. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. The plaintiff is also precluded from suing again based on the same case after the case has been decided.
Hearings in Baraga County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant presents his or her evidence once the plaintiff’s presentation of evidence is complete. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court can issue what is called a default judgment based on the case the plaintiff present.