Hearings in Missaukee County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. 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.
How Much Money Can a Party Sue for in Small Claims Court?
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. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.
Missaukee County Small Claims Court Cases
84th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Missaukee 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. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients 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). In small claims court, a party need only present their own side of their case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 84th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Missaukee County
A party wishing to file a small claims court case needs to complete a form(print out and complete). Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 84th 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 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.
Defendant’s Options in Small Claims 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
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Missaukee County?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. Both parties are required to represent themselves at the hearing. Either the plaintiff or the defendant can request that the case be removed to regular district court from small claims court (which would allow either side to utilize the services of 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 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 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. 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
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Assault and Battery
- Any action based on intentional harm or damages
Who Hears My Case in Missaukee County Small Claims Court
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. 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). In most instances, an attorney magistrate will hear your case.
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). 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 accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. 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.
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. 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.
Jurisdiction of Missaukee 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. Where the case is filed is 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. The court staff of the 84th District Court cannot provide advice, but it can tell you the geographic location the court serves. It is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm you have the proper venue.
Small Claims Court Locations in Missaukee County
84th District Court handles small claims court cases in Missaukee County. 84th District CourtPO Box 800 Missaukee County Courthouse 111 S. Canal St. Lake City, MI 49651
The phone number for Missaukee County District Court is: (231) 839-4590. The Missaukee County District Court can be found online here.
Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case
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).
Missaukee County Small Claims Court Hearing Preparations
You should gather all evidence well before the date of the hearing. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both the plaintiff and defendant will have the chance to present evidence to the court. You should write out or prepare what you plan on saying ahead of time. 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.
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. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying 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. The court uses personal service or certified mail to provide proper notice to the defendant.