Types of Cases 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 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:
- Contract disputes including payment or performance
- Car accidents where insurance is not covering the damages
- Tenant and landlord disputes over the return of security deposit
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
Is a Jury Available in a Oakland 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 who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Oakland County
43rd District Court handles small claims court cases in Oakland County. 43rd District Court is located at:43 E. Nine Mile Rd. Hazel Park, MI 48030
The phone number for Oakland County District Court is: (248) 547-3034. The 43rd District Court can be foundonline.
Oakland County Small Claims Court
Small Claims court cases in Oakland County are filed in the 43rd District Court. The 43rd District Court handles a variety of cases including small claims court cases. 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. In small claims court in Michigan, attorneys are not allowed to argue cases for clients. 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 43rd District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Oakland County?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff nor defendant can be represented by an attorney in small claims court. Both parties are required to represent themselves at the hearing. 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.
How do I file a Small Claims court case in Oakland County?
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 43rd 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 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.
What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Oakland County?
In Michigan, the small claims court 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. The plaintiff is also precluded from suing again based on the same case after the case has been decided.
Ruling After a Small Claims Court Hearing
The court can make a decision at the time of the hearing (after both sides have presented their case). The court may also take the case under submission (and rule at a later time). If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).
Oakland 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 sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. 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.
Settling a Case Without a Small Claims Court Trial
Frequently, a court may attempt to resolve a case without an actual hearing. This can be done through a process called mediation. 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 Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- 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
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. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. 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 Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
Jurisdiction of Oakland County Small Claims Court
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 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. 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.
Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court
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). The plaintiff is required to pay the court for the cost of service of the defendant. Service is how the defendant learns of the lawsuit and when the case will be heard. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Hearings in Oakland 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. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.