Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court
The court will provide a copy of the Affidavit and Claim that you filed to the Defendant. The plaintiff must pay for this cost of service. Service is how the court ensures the defendant has notice of the nature of the lawsuit and the hearing date. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.
Types of Cases in Small Claims Court
Small claims court only handles civil cases where the amount in dispute is $6,000 or less. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. If a party is seeking property or specific performance, the case should not be filed in small claims court. Common types of cases handled in small claims court include the following:
- landlord and tenant dispute about the return of a security deposit
- Contractual dispute including performance or payment
- automobile accident where insurance isn’t available or does not cover the damages
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Assault and Battery
- Any Intentional Harm or Damage
Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases
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
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Benzie County
A party wishing to file a small claims court case needs to complete a form(print out and complete). The form needs to be filed with the court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. Filings fees for small claims court cases 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 is filed, the court clerk should provide you with a court case number. It is important to keep this case number with you to use each time you contact the court clerk or any court staff as it will help them identify your case. The clerk should also provide you with the date, time, and location of the hearing.
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Benzie County
Benzie County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 85th District Court. 85th District CourtPO Box 398 Benzie County 448 Court Place Beulah, MI 49617
The phone number for Benzie County District Court is: (231) 882-0019. The 85th District Court can be foundonline.
Can an attorney represent me in my Benzie County Small Claims Court Case?
Small claims court does not allow parties to be represented by attorneys. Neither the plaintiff nor defendant can be represented by an attorney in small claims court. Both parties are required to represent themselves at the hearing. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court where both sides can have an attorney. The downside to this is that regular district court utilizes the normal rules of evidence and discovery which means your case will take longer to resolve.
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. In order to do this, a party needs to complete and file a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims with the court clerk. This must be filed before the hearing starts, but can actually be filed the day of the hearing or anytime before the hearing. The Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Benzie County?
In Michigan, the small claims court cannot award more than $6,000 to a party. 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. If they do, the party waives their right to recover any amount above six thousand. The plaintiff is also precluded from suing again based on the same case after the case has been decided.
Benzie County Small Claims Court Hearing Preparations
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 the plaintiff and defendant will have the chance to present evidence to the court. It is advised that you write out what you plan on saying to the court about your case in advance (to help focus in on what is really important). 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.
Hearings in Benzie County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff presents his or her evidence first. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.
Who Hears My Case in Benzie County Small Claims Court
Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. Cases in small claims court are heard by either a district judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney Magistrates are attorneys that have been appointed by the court to assist the court with a variety of legal matters (including hearing small court cases). Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
Benzie County Small Claims Court
85th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Benzie County. Small Claims court is a special type of court with a purpose of allowing people to settle their disputes over money without the use of attorneys or lawyers. A party does not need to know anything about the law to file a small claims court case. Attorneys cannot represent parties in small claims court. A party does not need an attorney in small claims court (but can obviously consult with or talk to an attorney about their case if they want). A party simply states the case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 85th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Benzie County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
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. The location of the filing is often called venue. If a plaintiff files in the wrong district court, it will postpone your case being heard and may result in you paying multiple filing fees or even having the incorrectly filed case being dismissed by the court. The court staff of the 85th 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.
Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
The court may make a decision at the hearing after both sides presented their evidence. 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.
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.