Types of Cases in Small Claims Court
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or 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:
- Traffic Collisions
- Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
- Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Assault and Battery
- Any action based on intentional harm or damages
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
Both parties should gather all evidence well before the hearing. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the 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). 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.
Luce 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. 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.
Who Hears My Case in Luce County Small Claims Court
Juries are not available for a small claims court case. Cases in small claims court are heard by either a district judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Luce 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. However, if you do, the plaintiff loses the right to any amount over $6,000. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.
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 side is allowed to have an attorney represent them. 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 (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.
How is a Defendant served in a Small Claims Court Case?
After the case is filed, the court will make attempts to provide the defendant with a copy of the Affidavit and Claim (that the plaintiff filled out). 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. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Luce 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. 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 is successful in the case, the court could add the cost of the filing fee to the damages in the case. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the 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). In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
Small Claims Court in Luce County
Small Claims Court cases in Luce County Michigan are heard in 92nd District Court. 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. A party does not need an attorney in small claims court (but can obviously consult with or talk to an attorney about their case if they want). A party simply states the case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 92nd District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Luce County Small Claims Court Location
92nd District Court handles small claims court cases in Luce County. 92nd District Court is located at:Luce County 407 W. Harrie St. Newberry, MI 49868
The phone number for Luce County District Court is: (906) 293-5531. The District Court can be found online here.
Small Claims Court Case Removal to 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. Moving the case to regular district court means the normal rules of evidence and discovery apply meaning the case will take much longer to resolve. Either party can request to move the case out of small claims court. In order to do this, a party needs to complete and file a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims with the court clerk. 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 document can be found online.
Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
The magistrate or judge could make a decision at the hearing after the presentation of evidence. Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).
Luce County Small Claims Court Hearings
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. If the plaintiff does not show up for the hearing, the court will likely 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.
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 method by which a court tries to settle a case without a hearing or trial. 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.
Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases
Once a defendant has been served, the following options are available:
- 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