Otsego County Small Claims Court Hearings
The plaintiff presents his or her evidence first. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presents.
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
Both parties should gather all evidence well before the hearing. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both the plaintiff and defendant will have the chance to present evidence 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). You should also try and arrange for any witnesses which support your position to be present in court at the hearing to present testimony.
Settling a Case Without a Small Claims Court Trial
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. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Otsego County?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. A small claims court case is heard by either a 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.
Serving the Defendant in a Small Claims Court Case
The court will provide a copy of the Affidavit and Claim that you filed to the Defendant. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying the cost of service of the defendant. 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. Service can be made by either certified mail or in person.
Otsego County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
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 87A 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.
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). Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Otsego 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 87A District Court clerk. When submitting the filing, the plaintiff will need to pay a filing fee. 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 is successful in the case, the court could add the cost of the filing fee to the damages in the case. Once the case has been filed, the clerk should provide you with the 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. In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
Small Claims Court Case Removal to 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). 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. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. The document needs to be filed before the small claims court trial or hearing. The document can be found online.
Small Claims Court in Otsego County
Small Claims court cases in Otsego County are filed in the 87A District Court. The 87A 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. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients 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. Small claims court is a division of 87A District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
Small Claims Court Locations in Otsego County
Small Claims Court cases in Otsego County are handled in the 87A District Court. 87A District Court is located at:Otsego County, Alpine Center 800 Livingston Blvd. Gaylord, MI 49735
The phone number for Otsego County District Court is: (989) 731-0201. The 87A District Court can be foundonline.
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 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:
- 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
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Otsego County?
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 where both sides can have an attorney. However, regular district court follows the normal rules of evidence and procedures which mean the dispute will likely take significantly longer to resolve.
Defendant’s Options in Small Claims Court Cases
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- 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
What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Otsego 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. 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.