Montmorency County Small Claims Court, Michigan


Where Should a case be filed?

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 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. The court staff of the 88th 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.

Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing

You should gather all evidence well before the date of 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). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.

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. Removal to district court means the normal rules and procedures apply including specifically procedures related to the presentation of evidence and discovery process. Either the plaintiff or defendant can decide to remove the case from the small claims court division to the regular district 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. The document needs to be filed before the small claims court trial or hearing. The document can be found online.

Ruling After a Small Claims Court Hearing

The court may make a decision at the hearing after both sides presented their evidence. Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.

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

A small claims court in Montmorency County cannot award a party more than $6,000 (not including court costs and other fees). If a plaintiff filed a case in small claims court that is worth more than six thousand dollars, the plaintiff 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 is also precluded from suing again based on the same case after the case has been decided.

Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Montmorency County?

Small claims court does not allow parties to be represented by attorneys. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. Each side is required to represent themselves in front of the judge or magistrate. 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 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.

Small Claims Court Case Types

Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. If a party is seeking property or specific performance, the case should not be filed in small claims court. Usually, these are the most common types of cases filed and heard in small claims court:

  • 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:

  • Fraud
  • Libel
  • Slander
  • Assault and Battery
  • Any Intentional Harm or Damage

Small Claims Court in Montmorency County

Montmorency County Small Claims Court

Montmorency County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases in Montmorency County Michigan are heard in 88th District Court. 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. A party does not need to know anything about the law to file a small claims court case. 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 special division of 88th District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.

Small Claims Court Locations in Montmorency County

Montmorency County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 88th District Court. 88th District Court

PO Box 789
Montmorency County Courthouse
Atlanta, MI 49709

The phone number for Montmorency County District Court is: (989) 785-8035. The District Court can be found online here.

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

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 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.

Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court

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 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.

How do I file a Small Claims court case in Montmorency 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 88th District Court clerk. When submitting the filing, the plaintiff will need to pay a filing fee. 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 prevails in the case, the court may award the filing fee to the plaintiff as part of the costs of the action. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the 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. The clerk should also provide you with the date, time, and location of the hearing.

Resolving a Case without a Hearing

Oftentimes the court may try to settle a court case without a hearing. 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.

What Happens at a Small Claims Court Hearing

The plaintiff presents his or her 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.

What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?

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