Defendant’s Options in Small Claims 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
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 a way for the court to provide notice to the Defendant of your action so the Defendant can have proper time to respond and appear and provide a defense. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Removing the Case to District Court
Removing the case to regular district court allows both parties to be represented by attorneys but also removes the $6,000 limit. 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. The document needs to be filed before the small claims court trial or hearing. The Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Muskegon County?
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.
Where Should a case be filed?
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. The location of the filing is often 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. District court staff is prohibited by law from providing you legal advice, but we do recommend contacting them to confirm that the district court’s geographical jurisdiction covers the area where your case occurred.
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 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.
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Muskegon County
Muskegon County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 60th District Court. 60th District CourtMichael E. Kobza Hall of Justice 990 Terrace St. Muskegon, MI 49442
The phone number for Muskegon County District Court is: (231) 724-6283. The 60th District Court can be foundonline.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Muskegon County?
Juries are not available for a small claims court case. Small Claims Court cases are only heard in front of an attorney magistrate or a judge. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Muskegon County?
In Michigan, the small claims court 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. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Muskegon County
The plaintiff needs to fill out a form to file a case in small claims court which can be found online. Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 60th District Court clerk. Along with the filing, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee which varies based on the amount of the claim. 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 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. In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
Hearings in Muskegon County Small Claims Court
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant presents their side of the case after the plaintiff. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can 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.
Will a Decision be made at the Hearing?
The court can make a decision at the time of the hearing (after both sides have presented their case). 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).
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
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 sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. 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.
Muskegon County Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims court cases in Muskegon County are filed in the 60th District Court. The 60th District Court handles a variety of cases including small claims court cases. A special branch of 60th District Court handles small claims court cases whose purpose is to settle and decide disputes concerning 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. Neither party needs to hire an attorney for small claims court cases (but can consult with one for questions about their case). In small claims court, a party need only present their own side of their case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 60th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Small Claims Court Case Types
Civil cases where a party is seeking $6,000 or less can be filed in small claims court. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for 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. 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:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery