Manistee County Small Claims Court, Michigan


What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Manistee 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. 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.

Manistee County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction

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. This is commonly 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. 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.

Manistee 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 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.

Manistee County Small Claims Court Cases

Manistee County Small Claims Court

Manistee County Small Claims Court

85th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Manistee 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. Neither the plaintiff not the defendant need to know anything about the law in order to utilize small claims court. 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. A party simply states the case in their own words. Small claims court is a special division of 85th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.

Removing the Case 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). 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. A request for removal may be made by either the plaintiff or the defendant. 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 must be filed before the hearing starts, but can actually be filed the day of the hearing or anytime before the hearing. The form can be found here.

Manistee County Small Claims Court Location

Manistee County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 85th District Court. 85th District Court

Manistee County Courthouse
415 Third St.
Manistee, MI 49660

The phone number for Manistee County District Court is: (231) 723-5010. The 85th District Court can be foundonline.

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. The plaintiff must pay for this cost of service. Service is how the court ensures the defendant has notice of the nature of the lawsuit and the hearing date. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.

Settling a Case Without a Small Claims Court Trial

Frequently, a court may attempt to resolve a case without an actual hearing. Mediation is the method by which a court tries to settle a case without a hearing or trial. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.

Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases

A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:

  • 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

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. If the plaintiff does not show up for the hearing, the court will likely dismiss the case. If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court can issue what is called a default judgment based on the case the plaintiff present.

Is a Jury Available in a Manistee County Small Claims Court Case?

Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. 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.

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

The plaintiff needs to fill out a form to file a case in small claims court which can be found online. Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 85th District 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). Once the case is filed, the court clerk should provide you with a court case number. It is important to keep this case number with you to use each time you contact the court clerk or any court staff as it will help them identify 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.

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. 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).

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. A court can only award money in a small claims court case. 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

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

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

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.