Livingston County Small Claims Court, Michigan


Will a Decision be made at the 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).

Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Livingston 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. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.

Livingston County Small Claims Court Hearings

The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. 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.

Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Livingston County

53rd District Court handles small claims court cases in Livingston County. 53rd District Court

204 S. Highlander Way
Howell, MI 48843

The phone number for Livingston County District Court is: (517) 548-1000. The Livingston County District Court can be found online here.

Livingston County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction

A plaintiff should file the small claims court case in the district court where the defendant lives, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transactions (that are at issue) 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?

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 how the court ensures the defendant has notice of the nature of the lawsuit and the hearing date. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.

Can an attorney represent me in my Livingston County Small Claims Court Case?

Parties are not allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. Each side is required to represent himself or herself in front of the court. 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.

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

Small Claims courts cannot award more than $6,000 to a party. 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. 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.

Livingston 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 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). Also, if there are any witnesses besides yourself who have information that would support your position, you should arrange to have them present at the hearing so they can present testimony to the court.

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. Here are some examples of common types of small claims court cases:

  • Contract disputes including payment or performance
  • Car accidents where insurance is not covering the damages
  • Tenant and landlord disputes over the return of security deposit

The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:

  • Assault and Battery
  • Slander
  • Libel
  • Any action based on intentional harm or damages

Settling a Small Claims Court

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. 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.

How do I file a Small Claims court case in Livingston County?

The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. The form needs to be filed with the court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. 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 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). 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.

Livingston County Small Claims Court

Livingston County Small Claims Court

Livingston County Small Claims Court

53rd District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Livingston County. Small claims court is a special court in Michigan designed for people to settle monetary disputes without the aid of attorneys. 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. A party simply states the case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 53rd District Court. The 53rd District Court handles other types of civil cases along with criminal cases.

Removal of a Small Claims Court Case to 53rd 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. 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 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.

Defendant’s Options in Small Claims 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)