Oceana 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 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 78th 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.

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:

  • 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

Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing

You should gather all evidence well before the date of 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 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.

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

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. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.

What kind of cases can be filed in small claims court?

Small claims court only handles civil cases where the amount in dispute is $6,000 or less. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. 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. Usually, these are the most common types of cases filed and heard in small claims court:

  • Traffic Collisions
  • Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
  • Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment

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

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

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 may also take the case under submission (and rule at a later time). If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.

Can an attorney represent me in my Oceana County Small Claims Court Case?

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 themselves in front of the judge or magistrate. 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.

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. 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.

Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Oceana County?

A small claims court in Oceana 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.

Oceana County Small Claims Court Location

Small Claims Court cases in Oceana County are handled in the 78th District Court. 78th District Court is located at:

PO Box 471
Oceana County Building
100 State Street
Hart, MI 49420

The phone number for Oceana County District Court is: (231) 873-4530. The Oceana County District Court can be found online here.

Oceana County Small Claims Court Cases

Oceana County Small Claims Court

Oceana County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases in Oceana County Michigan are heard in 78th District Court. A special branch of 78th 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 are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients 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 78th District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.

Oceana County Small Claims Court Hearings

Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant presents his or her evidence once the plaintiff’s presentation of evidence is complete. 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.

Removal of a Small Claims Court Case to 78th 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. 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. 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.

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

The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. The form needs to be filed with the court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. 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. After the case has been filed, the clerk can 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. The clerk should also provide you with the date, time, and location of the hearing.

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 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.