How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Dickinson County
The plaintiff needs to fill out a form to file a case in small claims court which can be found online. 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 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). Once the case is filed, the court clerk should 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. Along with the court case number, the clerk should provide you with the location, date, and time of the hearing for your case.
Small Claims Court Case Removal to District Court
Removal is the legal name for transferring the case from small claims court to regular district court (which allows either side to be represented by an attorney and removes the $6,000 limit of small claims court). 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. 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. Mediation is the tool that a court may try to use to settle a case. During mediation, a mediator (which is an unbiased third party oftentimes with specific training on dispute resolution) will meet with both parties (separately or together) in the hopes of settling a case.
Small Claims Court in Dickinson County
Small Claims court cases in Dickinson County are filed in the 95B District Court. The 95B District Court handles a variety of cases including small claims court cases. 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. Neither party needs to hire an attorney for small claims court cases (but can consult with one for questions about their case). At the hearing, a party is only expected to present their case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 95B District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Small Claims Court Locations in Dickinson County
Dickinson County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 95B District Court. 95B District CourtPO Box 609 Dickinson County Courthouse 705 S. Stephenson St. Iron Mountain, MI 49801
The phone number for Dickinson County District Court is: (906) 774-0506. The Dickinson County District Court can be found online here.
Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court
After being served with an Affidavit and Claim of a small claims court case, the defendant has the following options:
- Settling the case outside of court
- Removing or Transferring the Case to Regular District Court
- Appearing at the Small Claims Court Hearing
- Ignoring the case (and having the court issue a default at the hearing)
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 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 (which means either side could then be represented by 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.
Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Dickinson County?
A small claims court in Dickinson 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. However, if you do, the plaintiff loses the right to any amount over $6,000. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.
Dickinson County Small Claims Court Hearings
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.
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.
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. District court staff is prohibited by law from providing you legal advice, but we do recommend contacting them to confirm that the district court’s geographical jurisdiction covers the area where your case occurred.
Types of Cases in Small Claims Court
Small claims court only handles civil cases where the amount in dispute is $6,000 or less. A court can only award money in a small claims court case. 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
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Dickinson County?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. A small claims court case is heard by either a 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). Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
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 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. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. 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. 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.