How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Iosco County
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 81st District Court clerk. Along with the filing, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee which varies based on the amount of the claim. The filing fees 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.
Settling a Case Without a Small Claims Court Trial
Frequently, a court may attempt to resolve a case without an actual hearing. This can be done through a process called mediation. 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.
Serving the Defendant in a Small Claims Court Case
The court will provide a copy of the Affidavit and Claim that you filed to the Defendant. The plaintiff is required to pay the court for the cost of service of the defendant. 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. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Iosco County?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
Will a Decision be made at the 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.
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 party can only ask for money 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. Usually, these are the most common types of cases filed and heard in small claims court:
- 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 action based on intentional harm or damages
What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?
After being served with an Affidavit and Claim of a small claims court case, the defendant has the following options:
- 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
Iosco 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. 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. While court staff cannot provide legal advice, it is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm that the court’s jurisdiction covers the geographic area needed for your case.
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
You should gather all evidence well before the date of the hearing. This could include copies of contracts, purchase agreements, checks, photographs or videos. 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). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.
Removal of a Small Claims Court Case to 81st District Court
Removing the case to regular district court allows both parties to be represented by attorneys but also removes the $6,000 limit. 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. A request for removal may be made by either the plaintiff or the defendant. 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.
Iosco County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court cases in Iosco County Michigan are heard in 81st District Court. Small claims court is a special court in Michigan designed for people to settle monetary disputes without the aid of attorneys. Small claims court is designed so that a normal person (non-lawyer) can successfully use the court to hear their case. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients in small claims court. 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. Small claims court is a special division of 81st District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Iosco County
81st District Court handles small claims court cases in Iosco County. 81st District Court is located at:PO Box 609 Iosco County Building 422 Lake Tawas City, MI 48764
The phone number for Iosco County District Court is: (989) 362-4441. The District Court can be found online here.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Iosco County?
Parties are not allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court. Neither side is allowed to have an attorney represent them. Each side is required to represent themselves in front of the judge or magistrate. 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.
Hearings in Iosco 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. 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 is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Iosco County?
A small claims court in Iosco 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.