Grand Traverse County Small Claims Court, Michigan


What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Grand Traverse County?

Small Claims courts 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. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.

Jurisdiction of Grand Traverse County Small Claims Court

A Small Claims Court case needs to be filed where the defendant’s home is, where the defendant’s business is located (if you are suing a business), or where the transaction or event that the case arose from 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 86th 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.

What kind of cases can be filed in small claims court?

Small claims court only handles civil cases where the amount in dispute is $6,000 or less. A party can only ask for money 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:

  • 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:

  • Fraud
  • Libel
  • Slander
  • Assault and Battery
  • Any Intentional Harm or Damage

Grand Traverse County Small Claims Court Hearing Preparations

Both parties should gather all evidence well before the hearing. This could include copies of contracts, purchase agreements, checks, photographs or videos. Both the plaintiff and the defendant will have a chance to present their side of the case 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). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.

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. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.

Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Grand Traverse County?

Parties are not allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court. Neither side is allowed to have an attorney represent them. 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.

Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Grand Traverse County

86th District Court handles small claims court cases in Grand Traverse County. 86th District Court is located at:

Robert P. Griffin Hall of Justice
280 Washington St.
Traverse City, MI 49684

The phone number for Grand Traverse County District Court is: (231) 922-4580. The Grand Traverse County District Court can be found online here.

Small Claims Court in Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County Small Claims Court

Grand Traverse County Small Claims Court

86th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Grand Traverse 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. Small claims court is designed so that a normal person (non-lawyer) can successfully use the court to hear their case. 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. In small claims court, a party need only present their own side of their case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 86th District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.

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. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying the cost of service of the defendant. Service is how the defendant learns of the lawsuit and when the case will be heard. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.

What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?

Once a defendant has been served, the following options are available:

  • 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)

Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Grand Traverse 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. When submitting the filing, the plaintiff will need to pay a filing fee. 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). Once the case is filed, the court clerk should provide you with a court case number. Keep the court case number as you will use it anytime you contact the court about your case (or complete any additional paperwork about 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.

Hearings in Grand Traverse County Small Claims Court

The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presents.

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). If the case is removed, it also means the process will be much lengthier as the normal rules of evidence and discovery will now apply. 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 document can be found online.

Ruling After a Small Claims Court Hearing

The court may make a decision at the hearing after both sides presented their evidence. The court can also take the matter under submission. If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).

Is a Jury Available in a Grand Traverse County Small Claims Court Case?

Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. Small Claims Court cases are only heard in front of an attorney magistrate or a judge. 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.