Ontonagon County Small Claims Court, Michigan


How is a Defendant served 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 how the court ensures the defendant has notice of the nature of the lawsuit and the hearing date. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.

Small Claims Court Locations in Ontonagon County

Small Claims Court cases in Ontonagon County are handled in the 98th District Court. 98th District Court is located at:

Ontonagon County
725 Greenland Rd.
Ontonagon, MI 49953

The phone number for Ontonagon County District Court is: (906) 884-2865. The Ontonagon County District Court can be found online here.

Court’s Ruling in a Small Claims Court Case

The magistrate or judge could make a decision at the hearing after the presentation of evidence. 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).

What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?

A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:

  • Settling the case outside of court
  • Removing or Transferring the Case to Regular District Court
  • Appearing at the Small Claims Court Hearing
  • Ignoring the case (and having the court issue a default at the hearing)

How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Ontonagon County

The plaintiff needs to fill out a form to file a case in small claims court which can be found online. The form needs to be filed with the court clerk. Along with the filing, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee which varies based on the amount of the claim. The fees for filing a small claims court case 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. Keep the court case number as you will use it anytime you contact the court about your case (or complete any additional paperwork about 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.

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

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. In most instances, an attorney magistrate will hear your case.

Ontonagon County Small Claims Court Cases

Ontonagon County Small Claims Court

Ontonagon County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases in Ontonagon County Michigan are heard in 98th District Court. A special branch of 98th 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. 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). At the hearing, a party is only expected to present their case in their own words. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 98th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.

Jurisdiction of Ontonagon 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. Filing in the wrong district court can postpone your case being heard, force you to pay additional filing and service fees, and/or have your case be dismissed. The court staff of the 98th 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.

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. Common types of cases handled in small claims court include the following:

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

The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:

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

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

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. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.

Ontonagon County Small Claims Court Hearings

The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. 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. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.

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

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. 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.

Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing

Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both the plaintiff and the defendant will have a chance to present their side of the case to the court. It is strongly recommended you write out what you plan on saying before the hearing (at least an outline or bullet points). If you have witnesses who also have information that will support your position, you should make arrangements to have them present for the hearing so they can present testimony.

Settling a Small Claims Court

Often, a court may try to settle or resolve a case short of an actual trial. 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.

Small Claims Court Case Removal 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. 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 form can be found here.