Lapeer County Small Claims Court, Michigan


Removal of a Small Claims Court Case to 71A 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. 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 accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. This document needs to be filed prior to the small claims court trial or hearing and can actually be filed the same day (so long as it is before the hearing starts). The form can be found here.

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

Civil cases where a party is seeking $6,000 or less can be filed in small claims court. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for 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. Here are some examples of common types of small claims court cases:

  • Traffic Collisions
  • Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
  • Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment

Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:

  • Any intentional harm
  • Assault and Battery
  • Libel
  • Slander

Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Lapeer County?

A small claims court in Lapeer County cannot award a party more than $6,000 (not including court costs and other fees). If a party chooses to file their case in small claims court which is worth more than six thousand dollars, the party can still choose to file the case in small claims court. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.

Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing

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). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.

Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Lapeer County?

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 side can request that the case be removed to regular district court (which means either side could then be represented by an attorney). The disadvantage to this is that district court uses normal rules of discovery and presentation of evidence which means the case will take much longer to reach a conclusion.

Jurisdiction of Lapeer County Small Claims Court

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. If a case is filed in the wrong location, it will delay your case being actually decided and may result in having to pay a second filing fee or having the case dismiss your first case. 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.

How is a Defendant served 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. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.

What Happens at a Small Claims Court Hearing

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.

Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court

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

  • 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 Lapeer County

The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 71A District 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 is successful in the case, the court could add the cost of the filing fee to the damages in the case. 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. Along with the court case number, the clerk should provide you with the location, date, and time of the hearing for your case.

Will a Decision be made at the Hearing?

The magistrate or judge could make a decision at the hearing after the presentation of evidence. The court can also take the matter under submission. If a matter is taken under submission, the court will notify both parties of the ruling (likely through mail).

Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Lapeer County?

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. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.

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.

Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Lapeer County

Small Claims Court cases in Lapeer County are handled in the 71A District Court. 71A District Court is located at:

Lapeer County Complex Building
255 Clay Street
Lapeer, MI 48446

The phone number for Lapeer County District Court is: (810) 667-0314. The District Court can be found online here.

Small Claims Court in Lapeer County

Lapeer County Small Claims Court

Lapeer County Small Claims Court

Small Claims court cases in Lapeer County are filed in the 71A District Court. The 71A 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. Neither the plaintiff not the defendant need to know anything about the law in order to utilize small claims court. Attorneys cannot represent parties in small claims court. 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 division of 71A District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.